Reviewed by Heather Wixson
Starring Haley Bennett, Jake Weber, Chace Crawford, AnnaLynne McCord
Directed by Mickey Liddell
Distributed by Fox Home Entertainment
In The Haunting of Molly Hartley the titular character (played by Haley Bennett) is being tormented by voices and nightmares after an attack on her life by her whacked-out mom. As the movie goes on, we get the feeling that there’s more to the story than just her mom trying to kill her; there’s a bigger dark force looming in Molly’s life.
That’s essentially the only real plot synopsis you will be getting from me . Honestly, there is NOTHING remotely enticing for any horror fan within this movie. It isn’t scary, it isn’t suspenseful, and the supposed “twist ending” is weak and nonsensical at best.
My first problem with The Haunting of Molly Hartley is the title. One would be led to believe that there’s a ghost story amidst the movie’s plot, but there’s nada going on in the supernatural realm here. That was a letdown (well, as much of a letdown a person could have for a movie that she held with very little expectations for to begin with). Turns out, poor Molly is just messed up and is “haunted” by random visions of her psycho mom. My response to poor Molly having mommy issues? Get in line with the rest of us, sweetie!
My second problem with The Haunting of Molly Hartley is, frankly, the film’s plot makes ZERO sense. We find out during the film that Molly’s parents made a pact with Satanists when she was born to save her life. (Normally I loathe SPOILERS, but honestly, are you really going to see this film? Doubtful. I’ve watched it so you don’t have to!) Apparently when Molly turns 18, somehow that unleashes her “Satanic prowess” or whatever. That part gels; adulthood = evil. Everything else around it just falls apart though.
Supposedly her parents don’t want her to turn all Satan-friendly, right? So where does her father (played Jake Weber) move her? Satan Town, USA. Bad idea, Dad. Also, in case anyone was looking into converting to Satanism, this movie decides that when you do make the decision to accept the Dark Lord as your personal savior, somehow you become invincible and are unable to be physically harmed in any way (has anyone checked Wolverine for Pentagram tattoos recently?), which is total BS. If that were the case and this Satanic power protected Molly, why would her mom waste time trying to kill her if she couldn’t die?
I understand that since this movie is rated PG-13, it’s obviously geared for the tweener audiences out there. However, there are recent examples of how PG-13 suspense films can work. I actually thought The Uninvited was better than it deserved to be (mostly due to Elizabeth Banks), and I think that despite the stupid name, Disturbia was a pretty great flick that actually gave you reason to be scared.
Everything in The Haunting of Molly Hartley felt so forced; every “jump” moment was backed by a loud noise cue, and to me that just screams, “Hey, 13-year-old girl, stop texting your BFF about Edward Cullen and start getting scared by our movie!”
Overall, there’s nothing in The Haunting of Molly Hartley for horror fans. It’s not even a remotely decent effort. This is made for girls who grew up watching the old Nickelodeon show “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” and think that those stories were actually scary.
The DVD special features are pretty basic offerings and nothing too remarkable. All you’ll find here are several quick interviews and a trailer. We don’t even get a commentary. Not that I wanted one, but still!
The only reason I ended up giving The Haunting of Molly Hartley a 1/2 rating (as opposed to zero) is because for what it was worth, it was nice to see Weber’s return to the big screen, even if the movie around him was a pile of crap. Also, I love “Gossip Girl” and was happy to see Chace Crawford do something other than pout for a change.
1/2 out of 5
1 out of 5
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