Reviewed by Gareth Jones
Directed by Mickey Liddell
Starring Chace Crawford, Haley Bennett, AnnaLynne McCord, Shannon Woodward, Jake Weber
Distributed by Icon Home Entertainment
What begins with a rather well constructed and promising opening scene soon descends into mind-numbing teen-horror dreck with first-time director Mickey Liddell’s The Haunting of Molly Hartley. In terms of plot, we follow all-American teenager Molly (Haley Bennett) as she battles nightmares, paranoia, headaches, disembodied voices and more while trying to fit in with her new high school.
You see, Molly’s been relocated by her dad (Jake Weber – doing not much more than simply existing on-set) after a knife attack by her now incarcerated nut-job mother. With her 18th birthday fast approaching, Molly discovers that the phenomena she’s experiencing is tied into a much darker, satanic destiny, and visions of her mother may not be imagined at all.
Speaking of said phenomena, almost from the get-go The Haunting of Molly Hartley does nothing but attempt to pound the viewer over the head with endless (and I mean endless) jump scares and stingers. You’re never more than a few minutes away from the next ear-piercing wail of the soundtrack as some utterly dull piece of action unfolds on screen. Perhaps this was implemented to actually keep the audience awake amidst the banality of it all, but you’d otherwise be forgiven for being whisked away on the clouds of your own imagination; where the film becomes a parody of jump scares, and musical stingers populate every action: such as Molly buttering a piece of toast or tearing a square of toilet paper from the wall after a terrifying 4-minute defecatory assault on the senses. If the film did indeed involve scenes like that, it may have actually been worth watching.
Banality is the word of the day here, for sure. Save the intriguing opening, the plot is pedestrian and predictable. The cast appear to be trying to a degree but their efforts are easily nullified by the shallow, stupid characters and the giant, amorphous amoeba that is the lazy feeling of it all. The Satanic elements are horror lite, and even the ending is atrociously groan-worthy with its “Hey, aren’t we ballsy!” attitude. Answer: No, The Haunting of Molly Hartley, you’re not – and the only people who could think you are either don’t have balls, or they haven’t dropped yet. Avoid.
Icon Home Entertainment’s UK release of the movie comes well presented in terms of video and audio (you’ll be in nirvana if you like your surround-sound stingers!), but the special features disappoint. Included we have the theatrical trailer, and a selection of interviews. The interviews aren’t particularly interesting (there’s a surprise), but what is even more infuriating is that each one is broken up into segments depending on what the individual is discussing. The thing is, the interviews are pretty short and each of these segments is literally a few sentences long. When one is finished, you’re dumped back to the menu to manually choose to watch the next few seconds of information from the subject with no “Play All” option in sight. It’s like a DVD designed by Torquemada himself; continuing to torture you even after you’ve made it successfully to the end of the feature.
1/2 out of 5
1 out of 5
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