Friday, October 26, 2012
30 Days of Nightmares #30: LOVELY MOLLY (2011)
The Story: A young woman moves into her childhood home, where she is haunted by the memory (or perhaps the ghost?) of her abusive father.
Expectations: 30 days ago, I kicked off this horror movie marathon with writer/director Eduardo Sanchez's alien abduction film ALTERED. I've been feeling like maybe I was too hard on that film, so I decided to give Sanchez another shot and round out the marathon with his latest film, a ghost story.
Reaction: This one really threw me for a loop. I thought I knew exactly what I was watching -- a straightforward haunted house story that strings the viewer along by repeatedly asking us to question the sanity of the main character -- but I wasn't prepared for how intense this film became in the last half hour. Gretchen Lodge plays the title character, a woman who is obviously a bit frayed around the edges. Over the course of the film, we learn that she is a former drug addict and that she has a history of sexual abuse. Her "ghosts" are true American Gothic: demons of the past intruding on present time. Until now, she has been able to suppress that dark past... but when she moves into her childhood home, she starts coming unglued.
Sanchez, who edited this film as well as writing and directing it, proves that he definitely knows how to craft a scary story. LOVELY MOLLY is paced so well that we are deep into the heart and mind of the main character before we realize how messed up she really is. We don't just feel for her, but for those around her -- her husband and her sister, who obviously love her and want to help her but who don't know how to cope with Crazy. The usual question at the heart of a good ghost story -- "Is it real?" -- becomes practically irrelevant, because it is painfully clear that the haunting is 100% real for Molly, and thus for those who love her. She acts as if the haunting is real, and the people around her must respond to her actions, regardless of what prompted them. The story unravels the way real life tragedy unravels -- before we have enough understanding to exert any kind of authority or control over it. When the climactic scene finally rolled around, it hit me like a sucker punch... because it suggests how terrifyingly powerless we might really be. I can't say anymore without ruining the moment, so let me just say that this was a great way to end my 30 days of nightmares.
Most Nightmare-Worthy Moment: Aside from that climactic image (which I'm not going to give away), I was particularly disturbed by the emptiness behind Gretchen Lodge's eyes in a scene where she stands naked on the front porch of her house. She manages to capture the emotional void of true mental illness. I was also pretty disturbed by her idea of a lover's kiss...
Labels: 30 Days of Nightmares