“ Genre: Horror / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Mickey Liddell / Actors: Hayley Bennett, Chace Crawford, Annalynne McCord, Shannon Woodward, Ron Canada ... / DVD released 2010-06-14 at Icon Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, PAL „
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RELEASED: 2008, Cert. PG
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 82 mins
DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Mickey Liddell
SCREENPLAY: John Travis & Rebecca Sonnenshine
MUSIC: James T Sale
Haley Bennett as Molly Hartley
Jake Weber as Robert Hartley
Shanna Collins as Alexis
Chace Crawford as Joseph Young
Marin Hinkle as Jane Hartley
Nina Siemaszko as Dr. Emerson
FILM ONLY REVIEW
The Haunting Of Molly Hartley begins with an opening scene of a young girl meeting her boyfriend. The boyfriend gives her a diamond necklace for her birthday but, her father turns up and whisks her away. The father seems in a very disturbed frame of mind, apologises to the girl then crashes the car deliberately. In the wreckage of the vehicle, the father notices his daughter is still alive, so he picks up a shard of glass from the smashed windows, stabbing her to death with it.
We then leap forward in time to 17-year-old Molly Hartley who lives with her father. Molly is troubled by dreams and what appear to be delusions, caused by the memory of when her mother once tried to stab her. Molly's mother, Jane, is a patient in a top-security psychiatric unit, safely locked up where she can do her daughter no more harm, but....is there something more to Molly's nightmares, visions and the voices she hears in her head?
At her new school, some of the other pupils try to befriend Molly - notably Alexis, a devout Christian who although friendly, is unable to resist trying to draw Molly into her faith, and the charming Joseph, a very pleasant young man who obviously has the hots for the new girl in class.
Molly's father has arranged that she should see and take support from Dr. Emerson, the school counsellor....but, is she able to help Molly overcome her problems?
The Haunting Of Molly Hartley is one of these films where the title perhaps suggests something different to its actual content. I imagined it may have been a period drama full of old houses and drifting, whispering ghosts...but I was very wrong, as this story is about a young girl being haunted by the memory of what her mother had once done to her.
The film does start off very well, setting an interesting atmosphere with a touch of creepiness about it. Molly is a very jumpy person, and I experienced the same levels of being startled out of my skin at the same points in the film as her....but, I'm one of these people who jumps out of my skin very easily, often at next to nothing. I also....well, initially, found the personality of Molly Hartley quite interesting, but it wasn't long before I became bored with her.
The acting quality throughout is on the low side, deteriorating as the film progresses. I especially wasn't able to take Jake Weber in his role as Robert (Molly's father) at all seriously, as he seemed to fluff his way through what could have been an interesting part to play, lending nothing credible to the proceedings in the slightest. He was supposed to have come across as a loving father, but all I saw was a man - as an actor - unable to inject any paternal connection between himself and his troubled daughter.
Shanna Collins is moderately acceptable as Alexis, the bible-bashing teenager who tries to take Molly under her wing. She pulled some interesting expressions on her face, but I'd still not class her performance as being anything above average. As for the other (apart from Molly Hartley played by Hayley Bennett) female characters, the actresses who played them should really go back to drama school in order to learn how to portray real, believable people!
Hayley Bennett was OK as Molly, but I feel that she recovered too quickly from the psychological ordeal she was re-living several times per day. However, I am prepared to make allowances for somebody so young, as I guess this possibly could have been her first major acting role.
As far as the music is concerned, I found it disjointed and not always suited to the mood of the film. Some of it is orchestral, moving from light to heavy according to what is happening at any given moment, but there also was a hefty dose of music that I can't find a label for, suffice to say it is sort of 21st century teenage stuff that doesn't fall into the category of rap, hip-hop or modern soul. This music came across to me as soulless and very amateurish.
However, despite some very questionable acting and a basic storyline which nudges the boundaries of credibility, The Haunting Of Molly Hartley has some entertaining stretches,but these almost solely appear in the early part of the film. The levels of mystery during the first two-thirds are respectably high - just before the story wanders off into the realms of ridiculousness - and I was getting a decent level of enjoyment from watching. Just past the two-thirds point, everything goes crazy, with the story losing not only its credibility big time, but missing out on all of the rather well put together mysterious parts from earlier in the proceedings.
As the story continues and the acting gets worse, the whole setup becomes almost laughably stupid, culminating in what must be one of the very worst endings I've ever seen. What did happen simply wouldn't...as simple as that!
Although I enjoyed (in a trashy sort of way) some of The Haunting Of Molly Hartley and found the first third of it very absorbing, I just couldn't lie comfortably with the avenues the story travelled down, to the point where I almost lost interest altogether. However, I soldiered on to the very silly ending, which came as a total anti-climax that left me thoroughly deflated, although I guess I should have seen something of poor quality to be imminent judging by how the film deteriorated step by step as it went on. There is another odd feature present, in that some of the film to me seemed very rushed, yet other parts dragged on rather agonisingly.
In summary, I can say that it is a great shame that The Haunting Of Molly Hartley ultimately had so little to offer, after its rather good beginning. It is a story that I feel a lot more could be done with, and handled differently, has the potential to be a gripping, first-class chiller, but as it stands, it simply began on the right footing before quickly fizzling out like the dampest and most ludicrous of squibs. The acting needs sharpening up, the music needs an overhaul and the presentation of the story needs to be approached from a different angle. The credibility factor needs a complete overhaul too.
Would I watch it again? Highly unlikely!
At the time of writing, The Haunting Of Molly Hartley can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from 50p to £19.09
Used: from 1p to £14.27
Some DVDs on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
The Haunting of Molly Hartley
Arriving in a new town ready to make a fresh start Molly Hartley and her father want to put the past behind them. 17 year old Molly survived an unprovoked attack at the hands of her own mother who is now safely institutionalised in a mental hospital and anxious to make new friends at her new school Molly is eager to move on with her life. There are some things that Molly doesn't know about her past though and slowly she starts hearing voices in her head and sees things which she can't explain, is she going mad like her mother or are there more sinister reasons for what is happening to her? As Molly approaches her 18th birthday things start to get out of control and soon she will discover what exactly happened to her all those years ago and why she is one of "them"...
===Not quite a Haunting...===
Billed as a Horror film "The Haunting of Molly Hartley" is anything but, there are supernatural elements but this is a film best described as a 'coming of age' supernatural thriller rather than an out-and-out horror and in some ways it's better off this way. To my mind films that deal with the concept of hauntings need to be eerie and create a tense atmosphere, 'Molly Hartley' doesn't have this air to it but it still ends up combining an interesting story with a genuine sense of the mysterious which manages to avoid becoming clichéd and predictable.
The story is well paced with much of the opening hour dedicated to getting to know Molly and those around her, we learn snippets of information as the story goes on which allow us to work out the back-story surrounding Molly and her father. Rather than bombard us with information the film builds on its central premise of whether Molly is actually hallucinating or whether or not there are supernatural elements afoot and for most of the time we don't really know what is happening to her.
The effects are pretty basic with the only signs of anything which could be construed as 'wrong' happening when Molly suffers nosebleeds and we hear a few audible whispers, this isn't a frightening film by any stretch of the imagination and I wouldn't imagine that anyone would be disturbed by watching it. Molly herself played by Haley Bennet gives a rather understated performance for the most part although does resort to histrionics at times, the supporting cast of good-looking high school teens wouldn't look out of place in an episode of 90210 and the impression I got from the film is that it is definitely aimed at the Twilight Teen market.
Chace Crawford plays Molly's love interest, Joesph Young and was probably cast more for his looks than his acting ability. To be fair to him though none of the supporting cast have particularly interesting roles in the film and as much of the focus is on Molly throughout, their inclusion felt to me as if they were there simply to support Molly and have very little else to do. Shanna Collins is given a meatier role in the film as the religious fanatic, Alexis White although her performance does edge towards a caricature rather than being overly believable.
===Not quite a Horror film either===
Although I may have given the impression that I didn't enjoy the film and have been quite dismissive up to now in actual fact I didn't think it was all that bad. It isn't the best film I have seen, don't get me wrong, and I do think the title gives the wrong impression as to what he film is actually about but there was something about the whole package that did appeal to me. I liked the pacing of the film, the fact that there is no gore made a nice change and the storyline was quite interesting, there were obvious places where cheap thrills could have been included; a close up shot of a bathroom mirror for example - sometimes in horror films these are used to show a stranger in a house along with loud, audible jumps - the filmmakers here avoided this clichéd, overused trick which I found to make a refreshing change and instead any suspense that could have been created in this particular scene were actually created in my mind rather than shown on screen thus proving the point that our imaginations are far more inventive then any horror film could ever be. The ending was good but rather than reveal what does actually happen to Molly and spoil what happens all I will say is that the film ended on a darker note than I thought it would, again this appealed to me as it would have been far easier just to wrap up the loose ends and end the film with everything turning out to be alright, at least the film makers here tried to be different and again I found this to be an appealing aspect of the film.
Overall there is just enough to admire in "The Haunting of Molly Hartley" to make it worth watching, however some people will be disappointed by what they get with the film, hard-core horror fans will find the action and suspense lacking any bite whatsoever and many will not like the slow-pacing of the first half of the film. Voters on IMDB have absolutely slated this film giving it an average score of just 3.7 out of 10 which I think is slightly unfair however I can see their point, I watched the film with no expectations or prior knowledge of what the film was about - I simply added the title to my Lovefilm list purely basing my choice on the films' name and it was sent to me on Blu Ray format to watch.
If you like your horror films to feature pretty cast members delivering non-confrontational dialogue whilst dealing with the angst of teenage life then that sums up "The Haunting of Molly Hartley" in a nutshell. It's glossy presentation is typically American and even though there are a few unsettling moments I can't see anyone being offended by the film at all, there are very few instances of bad language and the film has a UK 15 certificate rating but you won't need a cushion to hide behind whilst watching it. I do prefer my horror to be more hardcore in all honesty but for a change of pace the film is an inoffensive way to pass on an hour and a half, I wouldn't necessarily give it a glowing recommendation but I can't say I hated it. Indifference is perhaps not the best feeling to have towards the film in retrospect but there really isn't anything either remarkably good or bad about the film, rent it or wait until it appears on the television would be my advice - It isn't a film to rush out and buy but on the other hand it isn't one to avoid either.
===Conclusion and Rating===
I think it should be clear by now that I found the film to simply be "ok" for all the reasons discussed in this review. It is available to buy new from Amazon for just £4.40 on DVD but would appear to be out of print on the Blu Ray format at this current time, it is, however, available to rent on Blu Ray from online rental companies as this is the format I was sent from Lovefilm. Either way I wouldn't recommend its purchase anyway even at the low price the DVD is currently retailing for and as far as my own rating is concerned 3 stars seems fair enough to me along with a recommendation to either rent the film or wait until it is shown on TV.
Thanks for reading my review, please note that this is also on ciao under the same username
The Haunting of Molly Hartley is a 2008 horror film that as far as I know, didn't get much press. It is 92 minutes long and rated 15 due to violence and horror scenes.
At the very beginning of the film, we see a teenager meeting her boyfriend in the woods on her birthday but her dad arrives and forces her to leave with him. While driving away, he apologises and crashes the car, intending to kill her. Realising she isn't actually dead, he kills her with a broken mirror, telling her that he cant let the darkness take her.
Then we meet Molly. At 17, she was stabbed in the chest with a pair of scissors by her crazy mother. Luckily, she survives and was only left with a scar. Molly and her father move to a town just outside of where her mother is in a mental institute. Enrolling in a new school just adds to Molly's troubles of having nightmares all of the time. The students at her school can see that she is disturbed and only two people really befriend her, another girl who is quite religious and Joseph, one of the hottest guys in the school. Which one really has Molly's best interests at heart?
Haley Bennett as Molly Hartley
Chace Crawford as Joseph Young
Jessica Lowndes as Laurel Miller
Jake Weber as Robert Hartley
Shannon Marie Woodward as Leah
Shanna Collins as Alexis White
AnnaLynne McCord as Suzie Woods
Marin Hinkle as Jane Hartley
Nina Siemaszko as Dr. Amelia Emerson
Josh Stewart as Mr. Draper
Ron Canada as Mr. Bennett
Kevin Cooney as Dr. Donaldson
Well, Chase Crawford...what can I say...apart from amazing. Most of us will know him as Nate in Gossip Girl but he has had other small roles in films like The Covenant. Although he plays the normally nice guy in Gossip Girl, he seems to take on darker roles in films which suits him better. In this film, he has to play both roles and he does it perfectly. Crawford makes Joseph sweet and innocent but dark and seedy when he needs and this makes him the perfect choice for the role.
I'd never heard of Haley Bennett before watching this film but I sometimes like that in a film when it comes to the main character. Bennett was great as Molly Hartley and really got her teeth into the role.
Considering I'm normally quite good at guessing the ends to film, I didn't see this one coming until right near the end. Some of the characters give you the feeling that something isn't quite right about them but this is to throw the viewer off guessing what is really happening. It's great to see a film throw me off my game and surprise me.
The plot has quite a few twists and turns to keep us guessing and it moves along nicely, always having something else to keep the viewer guessing. This one is a nice, surprising, quite unknown film that was exceptionally good. Definitely recommended, especially if you want to have someone nice to look at.