Lovely Molly: Spooky House, Not Enough Horror

The “name” connected to Lovely Molly is that of director Eduardo Sánchez, one of the perpetrators of 1999’s Blair Witch Project hoax, a marketing coup and major deleterious influence on much subsequent genre filmmaking. This latest development in Sánchez’s loooong-held-back sophomore slump joins newlyweds Tim and Molly (Johnny Lewis and newcomer Gretchen Lodge) shortly after they’ve moved into her secluded family home, empty since the death of her father. Tim, a long-haul trucker, is frequently away, and Molly, left alone, is driven to her wit’s end by a combination of unearthed memories and bump-in-the-night noises. Through what amounts to an elaborate narrative detour to justify Sanchez’s signature first-person camcorder style, the POV switches between Molly’s handheld video diary of the haunting and an external “cinematic” viewpoint—which isn’t much more cleanly shot. What atmosphere the film has can be credited to Matt Davies’ sound design and post-rock stalwarts Tortoise, providing 31 flavors of ominous rumble on the soundtrack. Although such a good “Spooky Sounds” recording might suffice for trick-or-treaters, it can’t sustain interest in the endless unraveling of Molly’s psyche, which, as handled by Sánchez, has all the interest of watching an inexplicably untreated wound fester.