The Haunting Of Molly Hartley

Remember playing paper, scissors, rock in first grade and throwing out rock, only to have some ankle biter scream typhoon and giggle like a sorority chick after two Cosmos and an eighth of mushrooms? Well, that ADHD-ridden tool box grew up and made a movie, and surprise surprise it’s an annoying befuddlement of confusion, which doesn’t even bother conforming to its own rules. Not that every film needs adherence to societal norms. Flying monkeys may not be a reasonable threat in Kansas City, Kansas, but amidst a hazy marsh of yellow brick lanes and irritable witches, the prospect seems logical enough. Nothing about The Haunting Of Molly Hartley hints at plausibility--even if one were to willingly and greedily accept deals with the devil and scissor-toting Susan Smith mothers as part of everyday life. It’s like finding out the Singing Telegram Girl bludgeoned the motorist--without motive--in a special 20th Anniversary Edition of Clue.

Molly Hartley (Haley Bennett) is a bitchy and angst-filled seventeen year old girl who just moved to a new town with her father (Jake Weber). She enrolls at a sophisticated, hoity-toity private school, quickly befriends a proselytizing religious nut job (Shanna Collins) and catches the eye of the school hottie Joseph Young (Chace Crawford). Probably because she’s going through that high school awkward stage or possibly because her mother stabbed her with a pair of scissors before being committed to a mental institution, Molly has trouble finding peace of mind in her new surroundings. So, her father forces her to see a school-appointed psychologist. Unfortunately, this weekly time to talk it out, along with everything else in her life, just seems to cause panic attacks, nose bleeds, and hallucinations.

Molly Hartley isn’t a likeable protagonist. In fact, she’s a complete bitch who wants to shack up with a wannabe frat boy, hang out with drunken cunt, and piss off her loving father. She’s unlikable, unsophisticated, and way too close to Shannon Doherty for comfort. Unfortunately, the antagonist isn’t likeable even in a so-evil-he’s-kinda-cool-way either. That’s probably because he doesn’t exist. There is no damn antagonist. There’s creepy Jesus freaks. There’s a murderous mother. There’s vapid mean girls who attend the same school. But the film never even bothers telling us who we should be rooting against. It’s like watching a pedophile with AIDS trying to save a prostitute who murders cats in her spare time, while simultaneously finding his cleaning came back with ketchup stains and his brother's softball game got rained out. What the hell does anything have to do with anything? It’s all just filler for an underwhelming out-of-left Jupiter conclusion which couldn’t have been solved by the ass baby of Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes. If I sound under whelmed, well, it’s only because of everything I’ve told you.

Look: this movie probably doesn’t even deserve half a star. It’s ill-conceived, laughably and unintentionally ridiculous, and doesn’t even seem to be putting forth any effort for long, expansive stretches. It’s an afront to the movie-going public to think a studio could be so crass as to even toy with the idea that this might please anyone. But it’s a horror movie. For better or for worse, the standard rigmarole isn’t in place. If a horror film succeeds in even being momentarily frightening, then any issues with the plot, acting, or direction can be ignored because that cute girl sitting next to you grabbed your hand and pulled your close. So, take your goddamn one-and-a-half stars, Molly Hartley. I won’t hold my breath for a sequel.

Mack Rawden
Editor In Chief

Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, the NBA and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.