What is it with demons and video cameras, anyway? The found footage horror movie is seriously overdone. Can we please stop? It’s not even that scary anymore.
To be fair, the director of “Lovely Molly” (Eduardo Sanchez) is the guy who started it all when he brought us “The Blair Witch Project” way back in 1999. In his latest film, he mixes home movies with video footage shot by videographers (both seen and unseen) as well as traditional narrative filming. The result feels like a “Greatest Hits” of camcorder horror. And some of those hits aren’t even all that great.
The film opens on Molly (Gretchen Lodge) not looking so lovely. She cries into the camera about the terrible things she’s done against her will. She holds a knife to her own throat, but claims that an unseen force won’t let her end her suffering.
The opening credits play over happier times: a video of Molly and her husband, Tim, on their wedding day. It’s not just the supernatural that loves video documentation. I don’t know if demons are drawn to camera happy people or if possession brings it out of them, but folks in these movies constantly film their lives. You can bet that, during an intense moment, someone is going to tell Molly to “stop f*****g filming.” Between her own camera and some security footage from her work as a custodian in a mall, there’s barely a moment Molly isn’t on camera.
Despite all the terrible memories it conjures up, Molly and Tim are forced to live in Molly’s childhood home, a creaky old thing in the middle of nowhere that is absolutely riddled with terrible rooms. There is a haunted bedroom with a dark closet, a dank basement, a tiny attic, a shed with an ominous green chair and a spooky horse shrine in a crawl space. Because Molly and Tim keep the place sparsely decorated it looks more like a museum to Molly’s abusive past than a newlywed couple’s love nest.
Screenwriters Sanchez and Jamie Nash try to keep the audience guessing about whether an evil entity is actually stalking Molly, or if she’s merely a victim of drug abuse and mental instability caused by childhood trauma. But they tip their own hand several times with some pretty standard supernatural shenanigans. The plot that unfolds is essentially a possession paint-by-numbers.
When their alarm goes off in the middle of the night, Molly and Tim call the cops. Naturally, despite the fact that the couple definitely heard something banging around downstairs, the officer on the scene sees no sign of forced entry. He’s equally useless every time Molly calls him back to investigate the escalating bumps in the night. This guy obviously aced “Cliché Explanation 101” at the Academy because he blames both “the wind” and “some neighbor kids” on what’s been happening before leaving Molly to her own devices.
The writers do their best to address the typical plot holes about why people don’t just move the f**k out when they suspect that they may have supernatural roommates. They’re too poor for Tim to quit his job as a truck driver, which keeps him on the road. She can’t see a doctor about her blacking-out-and-waking-up-naked problem because they can’t afford health insurance. She refuses to stay with her sister because she doesn’t want to impose. It never occurs to them to sell the place or try to rent it out. Besides, it’s only a little ghost rape. I’m sure it won’t get any worse.
For a while, the plot is just one long list of excuses in between inaudible whispering, lights popping on by themselves, disembodied crying and the occasional sexual harassment of a priest. Eventually, blood starts to flow as Molly’s Equine Ghost Dad brings her deeper and deeper into the abyss. Terrible things happen for no other reason than to be shocking. I have to give Lodge credit for her performance, which is an absolutely balls-out one. I just wish she had been given something a little more worthy of her talent.