New horror from the Blair Witch director has brilliant atmosphere but a slender plot
Lovely Molly commences with a shot of a young woman blubbing into a video lens that’s a clear acknowledgment of its famous predecessor. And the film that follows has similar strengths and weaknesses: a killer atmosphere wrapped around a somewhat slender plot. Like Sánchez’s breakout, which he co-directed with Daniel Myrick, Lovely Molly shines a light on the dark, ancient rites and powers that border shiny contemporary life; although this time the attack from the supernatural is a little more personally targeted.
Molly (Gretchen Lodge) is a freshly married twenty-something trying to put a troubled past behind her – an onerous task given that she’s just moved with her new husband Tim (Johnny Lewis) into her childhood home, the site of many past horrors. With Tim away for considerable spells driving a long-distance lorry, Molly is menaced by… well, something. Whether the supernatural symptoms are manifestations of psychic trauma from more prosaic mistreatment in her past, or whether the prosaic mistreatment was all supernatural in origin, is left – along with a lot of other things – up to the viewer.
While performances are good across the board, the end result is a film with numerous shocking and scary moments that don’t quite add up to a satisfying narrative. Perhaps in this post-Lost, post-Prometheus age we’re going to see more films that opt to scatter questions for interminable internet discussion instead of presenting a self-enclosed story; certainly Lovely Molly leaves plenty to talk about, but it gives so little firm information that one wonders if there are really any coherent answers to be found.
Lovely Molly screened at Edinburgh International Film Festival. General release from Fri 29 Jun.