Friday, October 12, 2012

Lovely Molly. (2011) Eduardo Sánchez

Molly Rides the Horse for October Chillers.

Molly is that girl that got away. The one we'll never understand. The one who makes you smile, but if you look deep in her eyes there's a profound sense of longing and sadness. She's the one with a past, maybe the one with a habit. She's seen her fair share of trouble, maybe even caught a glimpse of a personal hell. She's reserved, mysterious, shifty, enticing. Many men have experienced a gal quite like Molly, but most have been confused when she suddenly slips away.

That's why we're blown away when we hear about her new man. He seems too normal. There's no way he can handle her. A guy with a normal job? A truck driver? What the hell does she see in him? He's no adventurer. He's got no silver spoon. His looks, too. He's only got two little pretty-boy tattoos, and not even a piercing on his face. She is getting married to him? This guy? What the hell?

Molly (Gretchen Lodge, in an unflinching debut performance) and her newlywed husband move into the home she grew up in, now a large empty shell of a place. The house has been vacant since her parents passed away, and might be perfectly suited for the newlyweds to begin their new life together. There are certain things, however, that took place in this house years ago -- things which Molly claims she can't remember -- and these things must have been truly horrific. There is probably a reason Molly blocked these memories.

The couple are awakened on one of their first nights in the home by the blaring of the house alarm. An intruder is in the kitchen. As they wander down the stairs from their bedroom, baseball bat firmly in his hands, they hear bumping sounds coming from the kitchen, which scares them back to their room, where they lock the door and wait for the police.

The cop, who will be called on again, is quite familiar with the house. He's quite familiar, too, with Molly, who he remembers as the little girl that lived there. He sweeps the house with ease; he already knows every room. It's probably a door left open, or neighborhood kids, perhaps. There's no way it could be anything more than that, right?

Before crashing back to sleep, Husband swears he locked that door.

When he leaves on a trip, Molly begins to hear more than just the casual bump in the night. The creaky old house seems to be coming alive, sometimes calling to her by name. She hears a little girl crying. She hears strange whispering sounds. She finds a light turned on in mom and dad's old room. Certain images are beginning to creep her out. In particular, images with horses seem to grab her attention, both the ones still hanging on the wall with the old family pictures, as well as the ones now forming in her head.

Perhaps these images are what pull the trigger that sends Molly from "lovely" to something other. Horse has been her problem, you see.

Director Eduardo Sánchez (The Blair Witch Project) has constructed a film where the demon is somewhere in the mental mix. Like Pop Skull, which I wrote about yesterday, a movie in which addiction is the new Jason, drugs are the serial killer -- Lovely Molly leaves us debating the very nature of true horror. What's worse? A guy with an axe that chases half-clothed teenagers around? Or a horrifying reality -- a psychological makeup we can't decipher?

As her issues continue to build and Molly gets more freaked out and destructive, her husband and sister see it as a pure drug abuse issue, or maybe mental illness at worst. "I love her, Hannah," Husband tells Molly's sister. "I just don't know how to help her." But what they see as addiction may or may not be the genuine article here... The house is beginning to smell whenever Molly has visions of her dad.

The film sometimes feels like Donnie Darko, but darker and on a very bad trip. Or if David Lynch got to make his own demonic Reality TV show, like Bob from Twin Peaks being an awful, constant presence. It can be seen as straight story (well, kinda) or as some sort of problematic metaphor (more than likely). It's more driven by narrative than the frenetic Pop Skull, but nonetheless cut from the same thematic cloth. The performances turned in are riveting, and Gretchen Lodge as the bi-polar Molly goes in an instant from blushing bride to a hideous creature, seething and writhing in the basement.

Like the girl that got away, this is one that certainly got under my skin.

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