Lovely Molly director Eduardo Sanchez has up until this point only been known for being co-director of The Blair Witch Project. The found footage film was the first of its kind. Filmed on a shoestring budget, it is the biggest profit making film in cinema history.
Sanchez has now left the found footage sub-genre he created behind, in favour of this new horror Lovely Molly. It tells the story of Molly (Gretchen Lodge) and her new husband (Johnny Lewis) returning to live in Molly’s childhood home. She is often left alone by her neglectful husband in the house, which she soon comes to suspect is haunted after hearing some strange noises. Her husband obviously thinks she’s imagining things, so Molly decides to set up their home video camera to record the strange goings-on.
This is where Sanchez is able to work in some handheld amateur camera work. It is handled with what can only be described as tradition. It’s like watching a thriller by Hitchcock or a gangster film by Scorsese; you know you’re watching a film made by someone who made the genre what it is today. It’s all suitably disorientating, while making sure we don’t lose track of what’s going on.
While Sanchez knows what he’s doing when it comes to camerawork, his plotting at times is a little lacking. For a period the film becomes a little too messy where we are presented with a few too many plot possibilities. It’s understandable he wants to keep us thinking, but it gets hard at times to be fully invested in the story. Sanchez is however able to blend kitchen-sink melodrama with amateur filmed horror with a great sense of maturity. He’s done a good job focusing on the characters and the story rather than giving in to making a gross out horror.
Gretchen Lodge’s performance as Molly is quite simply brilliant. She comes across naturally and convincingly, which is more than enough to unnerve an audience. It is, as you’ve probably guessed from the title, all about her, and Sanchez will have needed a strong actor in the lead role. Sufficed to say it is very good casting on his part. And that’s what is so surprising about this film; even though the plot gets bogged down in places, it’s handled with a great maturity that would expect from a director with more experience. Along with Lodge’s solid central performance, this makes for an effectively creepy haunted house flick.
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