"When is a haunting not a haunting? Give up? When it's The Haunting of Molly Hartley!"
That's how I began my review of this movie when I saw it on the big screen back in November of 2008. If you couldn't tell from that opening line, I can't say I particularly cared for the teen-centric horror film. It's a film that tries to build up a creepy atmosphere and tell a suspenseful tale that feels all too real. Unfortunately, they forgot to deliver characters or a screenplay that makes sense. With that said, you are probably wondering why I chose to revisit it on DVD if I though that ill of it.
Every once in a while I will come across a movie that fails to deliver on the big screen, but succeeds when watched at home on the small screen. Granted, it doesn't happen all that often. Unfortunately, The Haunting of Molly Hartley is about as lame as it was when I first encountered it.
The target audience is clearly not the horror fan, new or old. The best I can gather is that it is aimed at teenage girls who don't watch many horror movies and their boyfriends looking to give them a little jump. I guess it could be deemed a success on this level, but even then it is a rather dull affair that is not scary or suspenseful, has an ending that makes little sense, and does not even contain the haunting that the title boasts.
Considering how lame the movie is, it actually has a great opening scene (I'll leave that to you to discover). It is too bad that every scene that comes after just gets a little worse than the one before it. Yes, this is a terrible movie and not one I can really recommend to anyone, but if you should choose to endure, let it be known that it is not nearly the worst film ever made, although you may want to say so when the credits run.
As the story begins, we are introduced to Molly and her father. They have just moved to a new town to start over after Molly's mother is institutionalized following an attempted murder with the business end of a pair of scissors. Molly is now faced with fitting in at a new school while dealing with some hallucinations. The film wants to be about Molly being haunted, what with her hearing and seeing things, the nosebleeds, and the usual teen angsty "woe is me" stuff. However, it seems to be more about religious fanaticism and mental illness.
I guess the titular haunting could reference her being haunted by her past, but that only helps it make a little more sense without making the film any better. There is no haunting in the supernatural sense to be found and that is a shame. Instead of a ghost story, watch Molly make friends with the outsider, the evangelical Christian, and the school hunk. We never get to learn much about any of these characters and have little reason to care about any of them.
I know I have not given you much of the plot, but it's such a terrible story set in a world populated with bad actors. The character motivations are fluid to the point of non-existence. They seem to act as expected until the plot requires a complete turn. It is bad to the point of not caring one way or the other.
Audio/Video. The disk I have is a pre-release copy and not finalized product, so I cannot comment on it, as this may not completely reflect the finalized product. To that end, the audio sounded fine, but the widescreen video seemed a bit noisier than I am used to. I hope the final disk looks better than this.
Extras. The release has a series of interviews among the extras. None of them are all that in depth, more along the lines of fluffy EPK-style interviews.
Bottom line. I hoped that my reaction would be different, but it was not to be. This is not a good movie no matter which way you slice it. The acting, direction, and writing are all poor and if I ever have to watch this again, it will be too soon.