Eduardo Sanchez, co-director of the now legendary The Blair Witch Project, returns with Lovely Molly, a taut and supremely atmospheric film that’s as much an emotional and psychological drama about dark secrets as it is a horror.
The titular Molly (Gretchen Lodge) moves with her husband into the house where she grew up in. With her husband, Tim (Johnny Lewis), away a lot as a truck driver, Molly is left alone in the house and experiences increasingly threatening disturbances which force her to confront past secrets.
Sanchez is perhaps being a bit too guarded with his story here, choosing the less is more approach when really it could have used a few more full-on scares to make it truly impactful as a horror film. The ambiguity of what’s really going on sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, at times adding to the sense of mystery while at others just being frustrating. But nevertheless the atmosphere is eerie, the use of creaking floorboards and doors, rattling walls and mysterious voices masterful in sending a chill down your spine and delivering a creepy experience.
Building towards an ending that’s left open to interpretation, which will please as many audience members as it frustrates, the film tackles disturbing and difficult topics along the way, giving you something to think about as it simultaneously creeps you out. It takes a seemingly generic horror plotline and does some clever and inventive things with it.
The film also features a fantastic central performance by Gretchen Lodge, conveying a sense of innocence yet danger which makes for uncomfortable, uneasy viewing. It’s a difficult role which involves some tough scenes but Holden really excels in delivering a brave performance.
While not entirely satisfying as a whole, Lovely Molly’s ambiguity is often as frustrating as it is bold, better off for not insulting the audience’s intelligence but worse for leaving too many blanks for them to fill in on their own. But it more than makes up for that with an abundance of truly spooky moments and backs that up with some hefty emotional weight.