Eduardo Sanchez’s Lovely Molly Review

Tim Hannigan
Love it or hate it, “The Blair Witch Project” is one of the most important horror films ever made, and arguably one of the most significant game-changers in recent movie history.  It showed how the internet could be used successfully to create buzz for a film without a single recognizable name attached to it; it proved that feature films could integrate video footage and still attract an audience (paving the way for the use of digital video in features) and it demonstrated that a compelling movie did not need a budget in the millions, or even in the six-figure range.  “The Blair Witch Project” launched the “found footage” subgenre of horror, which is still doing extremely well a decade later with movies like “Paranormal Activity” and “Troll Hunter”.While Oren Peli, Director of “Paranormal Activity” has used the success of his no-budget found footage film “Paranormal Activity” to build an extremely impressive resume in a few short years – producing films by more established directors such as James Wan and Rob Zombie, “The Blair Witch Project”’s Director Eduardo Sanchez seemed to fall off the face of the Earth immediately after his big hit.  Looking at imdb.com he does not appear to have been able to get another project off the ground until 2006 – seven years after Blair Witch, hugely disappointing when you consider what he achieved with Blair Witch.

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.



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