Eduardo Sanchez’s Lovely Molly on Blu-Ray from Image Entertainment
The co-director of The Blair Witch Project (1999) is back with a film of a similar vein. Thankfully, though, this time, I was glad that only part of the film was shot on home video. If there’s anything the director seems to like, it’s handheld camera and ghosts, which litter Sanchez’ work (The Blair Witch Project, Seventh Moon (2008)).
Sanchez aims at a more traditional narrative with Lovely Molly, which combines elements of ghost story, possession, and psychosis to create a befuddling, if not frustrating, mystery of sorts.
Newlyweds Molly (Gretchen Lodge) and Tim (Johnny Lewis) move into Molly’s childhood home, where she experiences terrible trauma at the hand of her abusive father. Soon, the couple start experiencing strange occurrences that eventually plummet Molly down a spiral of something between insanity and possession.
The film goes back and forth between old home movies, Molly’s recordings, and the third person point of view. While Tim is away for work, Molly, who has a history of drug use and institutionalization, claims that her father is still alive and that she is being tortured by him, so she starts to record her experiences. It is hard to decipher the truth, however, as she starts to take drugs again to cope—which causes those around her, including her sister (played by the missed Alexandra Holden) to want to drive her back to the loony bin.
Lodge wears a disaffected gaze just as well as an evil grimace, reminiscent of Regan MacNeil, assuring us that some presence is inhabiting her body. Also engaging is the character of Tim, Molly’s husband, who starts to fear for his very life. It’s always enchanting when a man can effectively cry on camera, and Lewis wins on this count—though one has to wonder what Tim was thinking in marrying someone so unstable.
When the family history starts to unravel, we find out less and less about what is actually happening, and instead have to bare witness to an endless supply of Molly’s freak-outs—during one of which she makes a move on a pastor. The film fails to reach a fateful culmination of events, but is successful in asking the audience to examine this character and ponder the many different factors that lead to her inevitable condition. And while the hopping back and forth between mediums is disorienting, it certainly speaks to an ADD culture that can no longer handle long takes.
The disc’s 1080p resolution makes images clear and sharp, with lots of detail. Lovely Molly‘s addled tones reflect its depressing content, and the tainted environment of the house. The film’s home video sequences are deliberately unclear, shot with low-grade cameras with weak resolution to appeal to an obvious unclear message, and vintage effect, but with slightly more apparent color saturation.
Tortoise provides the eerie music to the film, which compliments its ever-present and detailed sound mix. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 system that was used helps to create very detailed noises that slightly differ. There is often a “white-noise” sound that reminds us there is another party present, and at certain moments, what sound like the swarming of bees, when something awful may happen. Overall, the disc boasts great quality audio that emphasizes diegetic sound—a staple common throughout Sanchez’s work.
The disc contains some bonus features that go behind the scenes in making the film, as well as a few “mockumentaries” that provide more backstory to the Palmer family. These stories seem to serve the purpose of ramping up the scares with audiences, rather than coming to any real conclusions, and often come across as slightly corny, undermining the intended seriousness of the film.
One feature, entitled “Is It Real,” reveals that the house in Maryland where the film was shot is notorious for being haunted. Not only were locals interviewed, but the Mason Dixon Paranormal Society was brought in to find out if ghosts were dwelling there, and a psychic paid a visit as well.
Also included is a theatrical trailer, and the option for subtitles.
These days, POV filmmaking remains front and center, with films like the Paranormal Activity series, V/H/S, and Chronicle being eaten up like venom. Lovely Molly, on the other hand, is more interested in exploring psychological elements. Sanchez’s film’s tendency to interrupt its own flow won’t work for sticklers for narrative consistency, but its ambitions at least aim for a departure from found footage convention.
~ by Olivia Saperstein