MARCH 1, 2009
Much like Quarantine, I simply had no time for The Haunting Of Molly Hartley during its theatrical run. Unlike Quarantine, I didn’t have much interest anyway - not only am I completely oblivious as to what a Chace Crawford is, I could tell from the trailer that even considering it’s PG-13 rating, it would be a rather dull movie. You know you’re in trouble when out of a 90 minute movie, the trailer’s editor can’t even find 2 minutes’ worth of exciting footage and is forced to spoil the villain’s identity just to try to give it SOME sort of panache.
Oddly, both films feature actress Marin Hinkle, whom I was smitten with after seeing her in the vastly under-appreciated Dark Blue, and until this pair of horror movies, hadn’t seen in anything since.
My assessment was spot on. Nothing fucking happens in this movie. I wouldn’t even be surprised to learn that it was turned into a “horror movie” during the post production process. After an out of place opening (featuring that ridiculously hot girl from Autopsy) - one that more or less removes any chance of mystery that the remaining film could muster - absolutely nothing in terms of action or suspense or horror occurs until the film’s final 10 minutes or so. Our lead girl gets bad headaches and nosebleeds, but its explained away as a small tumor in her nose. The “scares” come courtesy of things like bills coming through the mail slot (someone, I think the Onion’s AV Club, said that the film would probably work best on skittish cats). Finally, her crazy mom (Hinkle) comes back, explains the backstory, and promptly dies. Our climax concerns the two wholly obvious “villains” merely talking to Molly. Then an epilogue comes along that made me laugh out loud.
See, the reason I put villains in quotes is because they really don’t seem to do anything bad. Molly’s dad goes crazy as a result of trying to protect her, but it’s not their fault he’s a good guy. When Molly turns 18, she is cursed with.... looking prettier? Being more popular? Hell, becoming valedictorian? That’s all the ending shows us. Life is pretty great for Molly now. She doesn’t have any parents, she’s obviously keeping up with her grades, and, I assume, enjoying a healthy pre-marriage sex life with her boyfriend (Crawford, who seemingly went to the John Krasinski School Of Affable Charm). It’s like the complete opposite of a morality tale. You know those movies where someone sells their soul to the devil, and at first it’s pretty awesome but then the bad stuff happens and they realize it wasn’t worth it? This movie does it backwards. Molly’s life kind of sucks, her only friend is an annoying Jesus freak, and her dad keeps moving her around. But now, as a result of (whatever the hell happens when she turns 18 - it seems to have some sort of Satanic connotation though), she’s got it all. The end. Uh... lesson, learned? I guess?
I dunno, maybe director Mickey Liddell is a Satanist. He’s certainly a creepy perv who doesn’t know his release dates. On the DVD’s only extra besides the trailer, he discusses how he was inspired by the “those movies of the 70s”, and then gives The Shining (1980) and Rosemary’s Baby (1968) as examples, while also repeatedly confessing how much he loves and gets excited working with teens. Awesome. Three of the film’s stars also provide pointless blather in the form of interviews; none of them seem to notice or care that the film, aimed squarely at teens, has a questionable and almost dangerous point that Satan can give you everything you ever wanted without a single caveat. And actually, had the movie not been so dull and horror-free, I would actually applaud such a ballsy denouement, but intentionally sending teens a terrible message won’t quite work if they are already bored to tears by the time it comes.
(I should note that the end credits list a “puppeteer”. Since no puppets or any other non-human figures appear in the film, I wonder if there were some and they got edited out of the final cut for whatever reason. This IS a FOX film after all; neutering the entire point out of movies is kind of their forte. See: The Abyss).
What say you?