Rather than trying to avoid the conventions of the horror genre, Lovely Molly stubbornly dives head first into them.
The horror genre ends up rearing its ugly head in Eduardo Sanchez’s Lovely Molly. Starting out as a psychological thriller heavily inspired by Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, its subject matter (including child abuse and drug addiction) makes for an unsettling character study of a young woman’s repressed memories taking over. Of course, being that it is a horror film, blood must be shed and plenty of it does by Lovely Molly’s final act. Rather than trying to avoid the conventions of the horror genre, Lovely Molly stubbornly dives head first into them.
Over the opening credits we see Molly (Gretchen Lodge) getting married to Tim (Johnny Lewis) through home video footage. Thankfully Sanchez (who co-directed The Blair Witch Project) switches to a more conventional style when the story moves forward several months later. Molly and Tim are living in Molly’s childhood home which was never sold after the death of Molly’s parents. Tim is a truck driver which means that most of the time Molly is left alone in the house, and soon enough Molly’s childhood memories begin to haunt her.
Sanchez periodically switches back to the camcorder throughout the film which leads to some creepy moments at first until it’s more evident that these sequences end up going nowhere. Once the film actually places these scenes in context it introduces a massive plot hole and, considering everything going on story-wise, brings in new information that feels trivial. It’s only a small piece of the film’s ludicrous climax which changes the tone into something more like a slasher film.
Naturally, as Lovely Molly starts to go down the rabbit hole with its title character, the shift to its bloody conclusion is an awkward one. After Molly relapses and other characters see her talking to thin air, the idea of getting her some help is repeatedly shut down. Molly’s sister (Alexandra Holden) explains that the last time Molly received psychiatric help she hated it. That sort of excuse would have made sense earlier in the film, except by this point Molly has been hiding dead animals in the walls and physically assaulting her husband. Once Molly is left alone for over a day despite all of her irrational behaviour, the film’s naturalistic first half is completely betrayed. It’s obvious that Sanchez is setting things up for the clichéd climax, logic be damned.
It would be unfair to damn everything in Lovely Molly though. The first act builds things up effectively, using the house to its full potential as a place no one would want to live in. The only distracting part of this section was the ear piercing sound mix, but by the end that’s the least of the film’s problems. Eduardo Sanchez may have one horror classic with his name on it, but Lovely Molly shows that Blair Witch didn’t establish a new name in horror. It was only lightning in a bottle.