Nothing truly compelling
An abused woman learns that you can’t go home again – ever.
Writer/Director Eduardo Sanchez is certainly all over the map when it comes to his projects. He had reached into the nightmares of my childhood with THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999) and had me enthralled with his suspense laden and under-rated ALTERED (2006), however, SEVENTH MOON (2008) proved to be a gigantic, nonsensical disaster. Now, with LOVELY MOLLY, it’s clear he was trying to recapture the subtlety of THE BLAIR WITCH, but SEVENTH MOON storytelling clearly left the movie without much punch – including scares.
After first viewing the movie, I was left scratching my little bald head: Excellent acting, wonderful atmosphere and spot-on cinematography, and some wonderful dialogue, so what went wrong?
Molly (Gretchen Lodge) marries Tim (Johnny Lewis) and they move into her former homestead, where her father had been found dead many years ago. In short order, we get the idea that this wasn’t some happy home full of S’mores and good night kisses, and that Molly, as well as her sister Hannah (Alexandra Holden), may have been mistreated. Now, Molly’s abusive and self-abusive past seems to haunt her, and her new dream life may come crashing down.
Lodge, in her first film, is amazing, as well as Holden, and the sister scenes alone are worth watching. Collectively, their body language and facial expressions speak volumes. Lewis certainly holds his own, and in one particular “kissing” scene, he delivers some of the most honest pain I’ve heard from an actor in years. All three pour themselves into their roles, which should keep any audience member from sighing over the slow, yet steady, pace of this dramatic horror.
The cinematography is fabulous thanks to John W. Rutland’s steady work and attention to angles as well as details. Knowing he came from doing mostly shorts and some television work to creating such a tremendous atmosphere here is wonderful, and I certainly look forward to seeing more of his work on the big screen.
To detract from Sanchez’s directing would be wrong and uncalled for because he brought cast and crew together in one magnificent manner. The problem is Sanchez as writer on this project, along with fellow scribe, Jamie Nash. The pair worked almost flawlessly with ALTERED, but seemed worlds apart with SEVENTH MOON. Sadly, LOVELY MOLLY falls somewhere in the middle.
The subtlety of the story is so seemingly delicate, like an intricate doily, that one can only see the holes instead of the pattern. Granted, Sanchez and Nash did their damnedest to deliver a tale that would keep the audience guessing, but with so many choices as to the goings-on, one may reach a point where he or she simply won’t give a damn. Is Molly losing her mind? Or is the house haunted? Then again, she might be possessed, or maybe taunted by some demonic force. Whatever. I love having options, but as a viewer, I wanted some more information about Molly and Hannah’s past, and those details were sorely missing. Thanks to the DVDs extras, that missing information was filled in with four, seven minute mockumentaries, that were far too similar to AN EXPLORATION OF THE BLAIR WITCH LEGEND (1999), and a bit hokey as well as a bit convoluted. Sorry, but if one wants to “redefine the genre” once again, as the trailer arrogantly thrusts upon us, you need to bring something new to the table, not the same old tricks.
Like a book, a movie must be a self-contained unit. Yes, not every thread needs to be knotted and squared away, but to fill in the gaps after the fact is a simple admission that the writers realized they had blown it. With that fanatastic acting, visuals and directing – as well as Jonathan Liebert’s editing and some remarkable visual effects – it’s sad to see the story was far from solid.
Regardless of how LOVELY MOLLY is ultimately received, consider Lodge’s career launched. She’ll appear in the CIGAR COLLECTOR, which has just been completed – and I have no doubt many more offers will follow.
2.5 stars out of 5