His most recent film “Lovely Molly” premiered as part of TIFF’s Midnight Madness and Sanchez has stuck to his low budget roots by creating a creepy film with a small cast and minimal locations which, as with Blair Witch, he shot in and around Maryland. The movie follows a young newlywed named Molly who has moved back to her childhood home with her new husband. The family homestead is a very eerie old stone house set deep in the woods. Molly’s parents are deceased and as Molly is left alone in the house for days on end while her husband works as a truck driver the skeletons in the family closet start coming back to haunt her. As the veil of Molly’s sanity gets pulled away she begins slipping back into drug addiction and starts to believe that her abusive father is still alive. Molly’s personality changes drastically and terrible things begin to happen to those around her.
Where the movie works well is when it is building tension as Molly sits alone in the house hearing things that go bump in the night. There are a few scenes that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up as your mind begins to wonder what is outside the door of the house, lingering in the darkness. Where the movie falls flat, however, is that the pay-off for all the tension is, for the most part, unimpressive. The scares are mostly subtle and the tension on its own is not enough to keep the audience engaged for the length of the film. I don’t mind using my imagination at what might be in the darkness – something that worked well with Blair Witch – but the scares in this film are few and when you spend great lengths of the film with just one or two characters it can become boring without the proper pacing.
Another big problem I have with the film is that it incorporates video footage shot by the main character. Because Sanchez used first person footage so well in Blair Witch you can’t help but think he is trying to just repeat himself here, which you could forgive if there was some purpose to it but it is ultimately unnecessary and distracting. The opening scene is Molly speaking into her video camera like a confessional and it pulled me out of the film right off the bat because it reminded me so much of the famous scene with Heather in Blair Witch.
The location is creepy, the performances are good and Gretchen Lodge who plays Molly is a standout, but overall I was disappointed with the film. The premise was promising but the final product was not compelling enough for my taste.