Monday, April 25, 2016

Film Review: The Exorcism of Molly Hartley (2015)

The Exorcism of Molly Hartley (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"'re basically being screamed at throughout the entire movie like if you did something wrong."

Molly Hartley (Sarah Lind) is possessed by an evil spirit and the only person who can save her is Father John Barrow (Devon Sawa), a disgraced priest.

The Exorcism of Molly Hartley is a possession film. The film begins with Father Barrow participating in an exorcism. He makes a foolish mistake, which leads to the death of a fellow priest and a pregnant woman. So, Barrow is sent to a mental asylum thanks to another priest's connections – he plays basketball with the state attorney, you know? Meanwhile, Molly celebrates her 24th birthday and she's also 'made partner' at a young age. (I don't know how many times I heard that in this film.) So, how does she celebrate? She goes to a club, drinks, slobbers over another woman, takes drugs, then has a steamy threesome. You know, a normal 24th birthday. Anyway, her lovers end up dead and Molly ends up in a mental asylum. It continues to follow this pretty basic formula from there. It all leads to a very cheesy ending.

As a matter of fact, The Exorcism of Molly Hartley is a very cheesy film. Several times during the film, I asked myself: is this supposed to be a horror film or a comedy? There are a few scenes here that had me laughing out loud; the rest of the film had me smirking on occasion. I think the exorcism scenes were the funniest. When she's possessed, Molly speaks with this ridiculous voice and her dialogue is atrocious. I expected her to end a few of her sentences with 'bro' or 'dude.' In fact, most of the dialogue is bad – possessed or not. It feels so stiff and, well, ridiculous. I can't think of anyone who talks like these characters. The narrative also feels very corny. It's a bit different from the typical exorcism film, especially because of the setting, but it heads to some very peculiar places.

Due to the extra cheese, the film never conjures a scare. I thought the scratching in the walls was a bit creepy, but it's otherwise a collection of scares from other movies. There's a scene that immediately reminded me of The Omen. You also have the classic green puke and some contorting bodies – the regular possession stuff. When it's not using some generic horror scene, it's using a bunch of loud screaming and shrieking. Really, pay attention to the scares. When it's not setting anything up, it usually reverts to a sudden scream. Some suspense probably would have helped these jolt the audience, but that's nonexistent in this film. Instead, you're basically being screamed at throughout the entire movie like if you did something wrong.

The acting is okay. Sarah Lind and Devon Sawa could use a bit more conviction in their performances, but they're not terrible. For the most part, the cast is hindered by the horrible dialogue. The cinematography is decent – it's not bad on the eyes, at least. The music is a bit repetitive, but I actually enjoyed it. The film is written by Matt Venne and directed by Steven R. Monroe. In terms of direction, I can see some promise in Monroe. Although there is a lack of suspense, he knows how to craft a scene. The writing, on the other hand, is bad. There are a few plot holes and some plot contrivances; it's plagued by bad dialogue and it's crippled by a cheesy plot. It feels more like a first draft than a
completed screenplay. Still, I think Venne, Monroe, and the rest of the crew show promise. They put effort into this film and it shows through its technical aspects.

Overall, The Exorcism of Molly Hartley is a bad film. It's a very underwhelming and cheesy horror movie. The plot is corny, the characters are dull, and the scares are generic. I found the most entertainment in this film came from the unintentional humor. Unfortunately, it's not one of those 'so-bad-it's-good' cases. I really don't recommend wasting your time – I've already done that for you.

Score: 2/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some sex and nudity.

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