In Eduardo Sanchez’s latest genre offering Lovely Molly, audiences are introduced to the titular character (played by Gretchen Lodge) as a young newlywed with a promising future before she moves back into her long-abandoned childhood home with her husband (Johnny Lewis).
Soon she experiences unnerving and impossible things as her past begins to haunt the now troubled woman, and what starts off as a simple story about ghosts builds to a battle for dominion over Molly’s soul as she is forced to deal with a dark presence hell-bent on wreaking havoc and terror on Molly and her entire family.
Lovely Molly first premiered to critical acclaim as an official selection of the 2011 Toronto Film Festival’s Midnight Madness series and recently screened during the 2012 SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas.
While in Austin, Dread Central had the opportunity to sit down and talk with both Sanchez and Lodge about their intensely intimate possession flick as well as more about the benefits and challenges of bringing Molly to life. Sanchez weighs in on his upcoming Bigfoot-themed project as well.
Check out the highlights of our exclusive interview with Sanchez and Lodge below, and make sure to look for more on Lovely Molly in time for the film’s limited theatrical run on May 18th courtesy of Image Entertainment.
Dread Central: I’d love to start things off by hearing more about how you decided to take such an intimate and unique approach with the exorcism/possession story for Lovely Molly.
Eduardo Sanchez: Well, I had wanted to make an exorcism movie since I saw The Exorcist when I was a kid, really. It had plagued me through my entire life; I think it’s the scariest movie ever. So then my writing partner, Jamie Nash, threw this idea at me- imagine if a woman or a man videotaped themselves going through a possession just so they could document everything they were going through. So he did a first draft, but I wasn’t really digging the direction it was going in so I went ahead and did a draft of my own then.
I don’t know what it was about this idea or story in particular, but I did all this research on various subjects and incorporated that into Molly’s story- the aspects of drug abuse and molestation for example- because I wanted to make sure I treated all those aspects respectfully.
But I just started writing it and the story just felt right. There was just this weird rhythm going on, and I honestly didn’t know if it was going to work or not ever until I met Gretchen. When I saw her in the audition, I immediately thought to myself, ‘Wow, that’s Molly.’ Then I just sort of transferred the responsibility to Gretchen to see what she could do with it.
DC: Gretchen, I’d love to hear your thoughts on tackling such a fearless role like Molly.
Gretchen Lodge: I remember reading it for the first time on my phone while I was working on this art film and I just could not stop reading. I started it at around midnight and just kept going; it was that great. It was so unique because it wasn’t this glamorized tale about some girl who’s just ‘going through stuff’- it was more than that. It was raw, it was real, and I just saw that the possibilities with a role like this were just endless.
The more that Eduardo and I conversed back and forth, the more that I knew this was going to be a remarkable project to be a part of- especially with Ed directing.
Eduardo Sanchez: I just had full faith in her; my big thing was just to make sure I gave Gretchen the confidence to go and experiment and do stuff so really, the performance is all her. I mean, I may have ‘birthed’ Molly, but Gretchen certainly raised her. I’m proud of her.
DC: It had to be difficult because you’re essentially playing two different characters – two extremely different characters – throughout Lovely Molly. That had to be hard to balance out.
Gretchen Lodge: You know, it definitely helped that the way we shot the movie was in sequence so I sort of made the transformation slowly along with Molly. I just remember going along and living my own day-to-day life like I was Molly so when it came time to get to the scenes where she’s literally on the edge and the story is just bursting at the seams, I was ready- I was ready to go there and so was Molly. I think that’s why it plays so well – the end of the movie – because I was ‘there’ at the point; I was exhausted, delirious at times, and that emotion came pouring out.
DC: One thing I really appreciated about this movie is that it drew us in in ways that haven’t been done before; rather than the viewer watching what was happening from the outside, it’s like we’re on this journey with Molly, and I thought that it worked incredibly well.
Eduardo Sanchez: Thank you. That was absolutely what we were going for. The original premise that Jamie had come up with of this woman videotaping herself was always the driving force of this movie; I wanted to explore why someone would do that, what would compel them to record the horrific things they were going through and doing to others?
And that’s the idea that always fascinated me- a young woman who was essentially going through a possession alone and the only outlet of truth she has are these video recordings. Usually, exorcism movies are about the family unit dealing with a possession so it’s really an outsider’s view that you’re getting.
Or like in The Exorcist, the mother is an actress so she has money to deal with the situation- well, what happens when someone lower, middle-class gets possessed? And maybe I’m not even touching on the idea of possession here- maybe it’s just psychosis that we’re talking about here, maybe it’s mental illness. Either way, how DO you deal with this if you don’t have the financial means?
DC: Well, something else I thought was rather interesting is that your entire movie is wrapped up inside Molly’s world, but at the heart of things she’s really the antagonist and not just the victim here.
Gretchen Lodge: You know, the hardest scene to do really was the final scene between Molly and her husband because it was a turning point of sorts for this character; there was no going back for her at this point. It was the one scene we had talked about the most in fact, and going down into the basement, I had no doubts about it at all. But then we started shooting and it just wasn’t getting there.
Eduardo Sanchez: And I didn’t have the answer either really about what was missing. I mean, I was sitting there looking at it through the monitor, and I could see she was having a tough time. But I didn’t know how to help Gretchen either; she just had to find it, and thankfully she did. When Molly is sitting there alone in the aftermath of what she’s done, it’s incredibly powerful, and that’s all Gretchen.
Gretchen Lodge: Looking back, I think this really is a role I’ve been waiting for my entire life. It was so unique and challenging, and I loved being able to get down and dirty and covered in blood, too. There aren’t a lot of roles like this out there for actresses so when you’re lucky enough to find one, it’s an incredible opportunity.
DC: So what’s up next for you guys then after SXSW?
Eduardo Sanchez: I’m prepping a Bigfoot movie right now over in Bastrop [Texas] with Spiderwood Studios. It’s called Exists, and we start shooting April 9th. It’s a first-person found footage movie, and it’s my first one since Blair Witch Project in fact. It’s going to be a blast; it might kill me, but it’s going to be a blast. I have wanted to make a Bigfoot movie for so long now so this is really cool.
Gretchen Lodge: I’m scouting out for my next project now; it’s really hard to find something that’s on the same emotional level as Lovely Molly, and I want to make sure my next thing is on par with this.
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