For anyone who wondered what happened to the Blair Witch guys this is a real treat. Directed by Eduardo Sanchez (co-director of The Blair Witch Project) Lovely Molly is another exercise in minimalist backwoods chills and suggestion-over-showcase.
Anchored by a titanic central performance by Gretchen Lodge, the film effectively utilises creepy haunted house and possession movie tropes to tell quite a relentless story about addiction, guilt and trauma. Sanchez never over-reaches his grasp technically and the stripped back, digital photography is simple, to-the-point and quite beautiful. There’s also a re-occuring motif of Molly filming seemingly random moments through a camcorder. At first this feels like a pointless peppering of found-footage to the proceedings but by the end I felt the mixed-media actually worked very well with the more traditional photography.
Like all great horror maestros, Sanchez understands the importance of effective sound design and the house rumblings, low-pass frequencies and electronic noise score by Tortoise are all great. I genuinely felt uneasy during a lot of this and the music was essential to my discomfort. It’s a testament to the filmmakers’ skill with atmosphere and the believable performances that they actually managed to pull off a lot of potentially-dopey material in this movie. On the surface it doesn’t appear to break new ground, but by grounding its terror in raw, emotional and character-based moments it manages to be that rare thing: a very effective horror movie.