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The Haunting of Molly Hartley (2008)
25th Jun 10
A new town, a new school, it's hard enough already for seventeen-year-old Molly without thinking her lunatic mother is holed up just down the road from her.
Director Mickey Liddell talks on the disc's extras about his wanting to make a movie similar in tone to classics like Rosemary's Baby and Carrie. Well Mickey you failed! BIG TIME! Your The Haunting of Molly Hartley feels fudged, badly edited and even at such a short running time feels like it's spinning on FOREVER. Liddell's flick desperately wants to be a horror movie but is so keen to retain a certificate that gets younger people in that it ends up devoid of any such thrills.
It establishes very early on that this is one of those horror movies where every shock is just about the volume increasing ten-fold at 'key' moments and it soon becomes a chore to sit through. In fact it's strongly recommended that if you are unfortunate enough to be sat anywhere that this is showing take along a vast volume of booze and encourage a drinking game whereby every time there's a LOUD bit on the soundtrack you knock back a drink. You'll be pissed in no time and far more likely to enjoy what unfolds on screen.
Opening with a prologue that sees a pretty young thing (Jessica Lowndes) on the cusp of her turning eighteen. She is strolling through woodland prompted by post-it notes on a rope leading her up to a cabin and already your logical mind is struggling with the details. We all know that post-it notes would tend to fall off the likes of a rope if left just a couple of minutes but hey for the purpose of the plot lets pretend that doesn't happen in the real world.
Anyhow once there she meets her lover who is about to present her with an early birthday gift when her father turns up and takes her home. Or so it seems. It's the movie's only effective moment so it would be unfair to the makers to ruin it here.
Jump forward ten years and we meet Molly Hartley (Haley Bennett) and her father (Jake Weber) - wielding one of the weirdest hairdos seen in movies since Tom Hanks stepped out in The DaVinci Code - as they drive to their new home. Their new home incidentally just happens to be up the road from where Molly's mum (Marin Hinkle) is incarcerated in a looney bin.
Molly is a very well educated girl and top of the class but you wouldn't believe that possible from the way she gormlessly lollops from one dull shock to another. She is befriended by Alexis the class religious freak - the only decent performance in the flick from Shauna Collins - and you just KNOW that there's a reason for this as well as her becoming the apple of the class' stud Joseph's eye (Chase Crawford).
It's all so conventional but then it tries to surprise you with plot twists delivered as if the very nature of there being a twist is enough on its own. It's not. Molly keeps seeing her mother around town and is convinced that she is hallucinating as how can she see her mother when she is locked up snug and sound?
Molly Hartley builds up to a muddled ending and frankly ludicrous final reveal which understates the expression over-egging-the-cake. There are times it threatens to be very Carrie with the religious mother persecuting the daughter she once stabbed with a pair of scissors but then it dissolves into a tedium not dissimilar to listen to Susan Boyle's album.
Nothing about the movie makes much sense when you sit down, that is IF you want to sit down and think about it afterwards and the film is so obviously constrained by budget and doesn't even try to compensate for it. For example there's a scene following the party where Molly only bumps into two other main characters in different corridors at her school. How convenient for the plot and how odd that whilst all three of these appear to be wandering around between classes that no other bugger is.
The DVD extras are minimal and rather inconsequential. However there is the theatrical trailer which pretty much shows the WHOLE movie in a more digestible and user friendly couple of minutes - it still looks painfully crap though - and then there's Cast and Crew Interviews.
As is often the case very little of note is said and much of the time it's just people spouting on about how much fun it was working with the others. The lead Haley Bennett sullenly pouts her way through her questions answering with a disdain not unlike one would feel if they had stepped in dog poo. Apparently it's a challenge acting without make-up! Poor thing! Lighten up girl! This was an opportunity for you to help sell yourself and you cocked up royally coming across as precious and lacking charisma.
Far more engaging is Shauna Collins who plays Alexis in the film. She seems bright and breezy and amusingly bereft of key plot details - she doesn't know what Molly's mum stabbed her daughter with - and then there's Annalyne McCord (Suzie) who is engaging too in a kind of bubbly airhead sort of way.
Finally the director Mickey Liddell spouts on about his love of the genre and in particular classics such as Rosemary's Baby and Carrie both of which he wanted to copy the styling of in terms of less gore and more psychological. He may claim to be a fan of horror but he's incapable of making one.
Overall, this one movie release to steer clear of. Molly Hartlet fails abysmally as a horror film and is not even bad enough to be funny. Life's too short go rent out The House of the Devil again instead and remind yourself of what a decent genre flick is supposed to do.