Skip to main content

2 out of 4 stars

Country
USA
Language
English

Lovely Molly is determined to remain ambiguous, but the title says it all. Good-Lookin' Joanie just wouldn't have the same ominous ring to it.

There's something unsettling about the word "lovely" in a title. The Lovely Bones deals with homicidal pedophilia; She's So Lovely deals with a victim of rape and abuse. Even Paul McCartney's cute song Lovely Rita is about a parking cop with an obsessive lover. The name "Molly" indicates a chaste ideal, like a Molly Mormon or Molly Maid, but also murderers and martyrs, like legendary Salem decapitator Hatchet Molly or the celebrated fictional Irish prostitute Molly Malone.

So we can assume, rightly, that this movie's lovely Molly (Gretchen Lodge) is conflicted. As she cries into her camcorder while holding a knife to her throat in the movie's first shot, we're instructed to both sympathize with her and fear her.

Story continues below advertisement

Then, the movie flashes back a month earlier. Molly happily marries Tim (Johnny Lewis) and they move into her dead parents' former farmhouse. But, quickly, things start to unravel, as they always do in dead parents' former farmhouses. Molly starts to hear a lowing murmur which occasionally breaks into a few bars of sinister folk song. Nudity, blood, a repressed pastor, a maddening cellar, dead animals and other horror mainstays are soon to follow as Molly becomes increasingly feral. Is it psychosis or possession that Molly suffers from? Her supportive sister Hannah, played warmly by raspy-voiced Alexandra Holden, thinks the problem is Molly's return to their childhood home, and Tim worries about Molly's old heroin habit. There are other intimations of a sordid family history, or possibly demons from beyond, and the movie savvily ensures that it has no clear-cut explanation through a series of omissions. Literally, an unseen skeleton in the closet summons Molly.

Unfortunately, Lovely Molly's images can't compare to the hallucinatory and location-specific depictions of psychological breakdown, nor the complexities, of movies like Repulsion or The Shining – or even Don't Look Now, which confirmed its ambiguity by the surprising last-minute appearance of a killer dwarf. Some of the shock effects in Lovely Molly are successfully disorienting, but too many of its ideas are reductive and histrionic, such as those concerning the male victimization of women, vengeance and mental illness. Key objects like a screwdriver are also inexplicably significant. It's hard to tell why Molly is rigorously documenting herself, and why a portion of Lovely Molly is from her camcorder's perspective, other than as a nod to the found-footage genre conventions that director Eduardo Sanchez established with The Blair Witch Project and which led to more recent financial success stories like Paranormal Activity.

The lack of razzle-dazzle dialogue gives the plot a simple momentum, but it's often way too expository and frustratingly unambiguous. In an early scene, Tim explains to the audience that he's a truck driver who has to leave Molly home alone. Actress Gretchen Lodge makes a convincing hysteric, but communicates other emotions flatly. Choose your ambiguities wisely.

Lovely Molly

  • Directed by Eduardo Sanchez
  • Written by Eduardo Sanchez and Jamie Nash
  • Starring Gretchen Lodge, Johnny Lewis and Alexandra Holden
  • Classification: 18A

Special to The Globe and Mail

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter