September 10, 2012

Lovely Molly (2011)

"Newlywed Molly moves into her deceased father's house in the countryside, where painful memories soon begin to haunt her."

According to one my friends on Twitter, there was a lot of hype surrounding "Lovely Molly" at the London Frightfest. I'm not sure how that same friend missed the chance to see it, but I assume that there either must have been a programming clash with something else which he wanted to see more or he simply missed that day of the convention. Whatever the case, he wanted to know what I thought of "Lovely Molly" so, in spite of never having heard of it before, I gave it a go.

I had no idea that "Lovely Molly" was directed by Eduardo Sánchez or I probably wouldn't have watched it. I've never had anything good to say about "The Blair Witch Project" (1999), and "Altered" (2006) wasn't very memorable. Maybe I shouldn't be prejudiced against certain directors (since most of them are only hired for their ability to boss everyone around on set), but, in the case of Eduardo Sánchez, he's always tried to be something of an auteur. The problem is, of course, that if you set yourself up as such, trying to be all groundbreaking, innovative and original, your movie is either going to be a huge success or completely suck.

However, "Lovely Molly" really surprised me in a good way especially as it was yet another low-budget entry into the horror genre. I wouldn't call the estimated $1,000,000 budget all that low, but, in movie terms, it was the minimum amount which would allow all the bells and whistles for acceptable production values or to hire decent talent both in front of and behind the camera.

I'd hazard a guess that most of the budget was spent on the cast as my one major gripe with "Lovely Molly" is that it seemed to lack a lighting crew. Maybe the intention was to add atmosphere to the already neglected-looking setting, but the gloominess comes across as annoying and a product of some very amateur camerawork particularly in daylight when the sun was behind the actors.

That nitpicking aside, the acting is phenomenal. Gretchen Lodge, in particular, is not only very beautiful and realistically so, but she is outstanding in her role as Molly. Although, physically, she occasionally reminded me of Cécile De France from "High Tension" (2003), she really brings her character to life, and her personality change as the story progresses wouldn't be out of place in an Academy Award nominated movie. According to the IMDb, this is her first movie, and that makes her performance even more incredible. If only every horror actress was this good, we wouldn't have all those embarrassing wannabes in the "Women of Horror" clique who I'm sure you've all encountered over the years.

I didn't really bother to look up the credentials of the other actors and actresses involved as there are no bad performances from any of them. Obviously, Alexandra Holden as Hannah, Molly's sister, has another superb yet far too brief role, and Johnny Lewis as Tim, Molly's truck-driving husband, delivers a sympathetic performance which made me feel quite sorry for his otherwise spineless character.

"Lovely Molly" is a very character driven story so it might seem slow to a lot of people. When it started with a wedding, I feared another "[REC]³ Génesis" about to happen, but, fortunately, it was completely different. There are some superficial similarities as, once again, a video camera plays an important part, but this is not a found footage movie or a parody of the genre. "Lovely Molly" is a serious, ballsy, taboo-laden amalgam of admittedly derivative themes set in a very real and low-income environment.

Because this is a fairly recently released movie which you probably haven't seen yet, I'm avoiding the spoilers (and details) as much as I can. Suffice it to say that there is a lot of nudity, some extreme sexiness which I really didn't expect, and all sorts of horrific nastiness, violence, bloodshed, and murder along the way. You can find out a lot more by visiting the official website which I suggest that you do anyway before you watch "Lovely Molly" as there are some "Blair Witch"-style features on there which add a lot of details to the backstory.

I will just add that one of my favourite scenes is between Molly and Pastor Bobby (played by Field Blauvelt), but I'm not going to give away any more than that.

Now that I've had time for it all to sink in, "Lovely Molly" is absolutely the best and most original horror movie that I've seen so far this year. It's a little bit slow to begin with, very confusing near the end, and slightly overambitious, but the acting is worthy of a horror Oscar if such a thing existed.

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