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The Haunting of Molly Hartley (2008)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 2/24/2009

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/25/2009

When people ask me why I love horror films, I tell them that it goes all the way back to my love for Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? as a child. While that may seem silly at first, just think about it. Scooby-Doo is a show about monsters and ghosts aimed at kids. While it seems charming and campy now, for a very young child in the 70s, it was downright creepy at times. And this launched my interest in scary stories. My point is that there's nothing wrong with age-appropriate horror-themed entertainment. I have no problem with PG-13 horror movies aimed at a tween crowd who isn't ready for the real thing. Well, I don't have problems with those movies as long as they aren't insulting garbage like The Haunting of Molly Hartley.

The Haunting of Molly Hartley opens with Molly (Haley Bennett) and her father, Robert (Jake Weber), moving to a new town. (Actually, it begins with a pre-credit sequence which feels more than tacked-on.) Molly's mother attempted to kill her by stabbing Molly in the chest. Mrs. Hartley (Marin Hinkle) has been committed to a mental institution and Molly and her dad moved to town to be closer to her. Still understandably shaken from the trauma, Molly isn't over-enthused about starting at a new school, but Alexis (Shanna Collins) is immediately friendly with her. She also draws the attention of Joseph (Chace Crawford), which doesn't sit well with Suzie (AnnaLynne McCord), his girlfriend. While Molly attempts to adjust to school, she keeps hearing voices, seeing her Mother everywhere, and experiencing nosebleeds. She can't tell if she's hallucinating or seeing her Mother for real, but when she does appear, Mrs. Hartley claims that she was only trying to help Molly when she stabbed her. As Molly's 18th birthday approaches, the circumstances around her begin to get more and more bizarre, as if it's all leading up to something.

Let's get one thing clear right off the bat -- The Haunting of Molly Hartley is not a ghost story. There isn't ghost one in the movie and the only thing which is haunting Molly is the memory of what her mother did. The only thing that will be haunting you after seeing this movie are the thoughts of what you could have been doing instead, such as folding laundry or watching the grass grow.  They probably asked some ghosts to be in the film, but they read the script and said, "Look, I'm dead, but my career isn't."

The Haunting of Molly Hartley is one of the lamest, poorly executed movies that I've ever seen. Never mind the excuse that this is meant to be horror-lite which will appeal to a certain teenaged crowd -- this movie insults the intelligence of that audience and everyone else by thinking that anyone would enjoy this atrocity.

The bulk of the problems here spring from the story, which is essentially an updated and slightly tweaked version of Rosemaryís Baby. OK, fine, most teens today probably havenít heard of or seen that movie, and as itís for mature audiences, I can see why they would want to make a new version of it. But, imagine Rosemaryís Baby without the baby...or the creepy neighbors...or anything else for that matter. The Haunting of Molly Hartley is a horror film in name only, as most of it plays like a teen soap. (Which isnít surprising as the cast is made up of actors from 90210 and Gossip Girl.) We watch Molly go to her new school, learn about the cliques, argue with her Dad, go to a party...oh, and every now and then she has a vision of her Mom. There are only two scenes in the film where it begins to border on a thriller, and it only skirts the border in those scenes. In one, Molly assaults someone and everyone takes it in stride. Come on! That girl would have pressed charges in a heartbeat!

The biggest insult (and thatís saying a lot) comes at the end. The finale is just comes out of nowhere and is ridiculous. Iíve never seen a film which has a coda and still has the feeling of a movie where the film broke and we didnít get to see what really happened. However, the fact that it does end is sweet relief, for even at 82 minutes, the movie seems to go on forever. And after all of that, we are left wondering, ďWhat was that supposed to be?Ē It wasnít scary...it didnít even make it to creepy. At times, I thought that it was going to have a Christian message, but that didnít happen. Long-time TV producer Mickey Liddell makes his feature-film directing debut here, and I have to wonder if he ever had an idea of what he was doing. Maybe my hatred for this movie will haunt him.

The Haunting of Molly Hartley does nothing at all on DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. Keeping in mind that a special screener disc was viewed for this review, the image was sharp and clear for the most part, showing slight grain, but no defects from the source material. The colors were pretty good, but the image did show noise throughout. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The audio here is acceptable, as we get the appropriate stereo and surround effects. During the party scene and the ďshockĒ scenes, the music cues fills the speakers and there are some notable subwoofer effects.

The Haunting of Molly Hartley DVD essentially contains only two extra features. We get an assortment of "Cast and Crew Interviews" (6 minutes) which feature Haley Bennett, Shanna Collins, AnnaLynne Mccord, and Director Mickey Liddell, who discuss what lead them to the movie, specific scenes, and the story. The only other extra is the THEATRICAL TRAILER for the film.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long