Review 45: The Haunting of Molly Hartley (0/5)

The Haunting of Molly Hartley

Directed by Mickey Liddell

Starring Haley Bennett, Chace Crawford, Jake Weber, Shannon Woodward, Shanna Collins

Released on October 31, 2008

Running time 1h 32m

Rated PG-13

Genre: Horror

PG-13 horror movies. I’ve done a lot of those recently. Sometimes gems like Insidious come along, but most of the time they either suck or are painfully average. And then we get bad apples like The Messengers and The Apparition. And then we get an apple like The Haunting of Molly Hartley. You will spit out the first bite, ultimately to no avail as the apple is infested with pathogens and you are made incredibly sick, and you will soon die in horrible pain.

Our story begins with a prologue…which has absolutely nothing to do with the main story, so…screw it.

Introduce Molly Hartley (Haley Bennett). She’s an atheist and a self-centered little whorebag, who, for some reason, is a straight-A student. She’s starting anew at a renowned private school (with tacky uniforms) after a traumatic childhood. What happened during her traumatic childhood, you may ask? I will explain later, even though it is very poorly explained in the movie. Anyway, she meets Joseph (Chace Crawford), the popular guy with whom Molly develops a romantic interest in, Alexis (Shanna Collins), the religious nut, and Leah (Shannon Woodward), the antisocial chick.

I must address the character of Alexis briefly. In one scene with Molly on Molly’s first day, Alexis lets Molly know that the other students laugh at her because she has a close relationship with Jesus. I would say “Good for her”, but in this flick, that is not the case. I will explain later. In order for Molly’s English class to fully understand Paradise Lost, the teacher passes out Bibles to the class, much to the dismay of everyone but Alexis. This isn’t going to turn out like Sunshine, is it? Where the only religious people are absolutely crazy? Starry-eyed kooks or freaking homicidal maniacs (I will explain later)? Anyway, Alexis complains that she has her own Bible, and gets into a brief argument with her teacher over the Bible. I found myself asking the rest of the class, What the hell is wrong with the Bible? I had originally thought, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett would love this movie, but I ultimately rescinded that statement. I will explain later. Throughout most of the movie, Alexis constantly encourages Molly to read the Bible and accept Christ.

Over the course of about two thirds of the movie, Molly begins hearing voices and hallucinating her mother. It is revealed that the mother was a religious whackadoo who tried to “save” Molly when Molly was a child by stabbing her in the chest with a pair of scissors because of…something happening when Molly turns eighteen. Molly’s mother has been in a mental institution ever since, leaving Molly’s father (Jake Weber) to raise Molly himself. I told you I’d explain her traumatic childhood.

After a surgery, a party, more romantic interest, and more hallucinations, Molly comes home the day before her eighteenth birthday to find her crazy mother actually there. After a brief struggle, Molly’s mother falls on her own knife and kills herself, but not before revealing a twist. A twist that M. Night Shyamalan, the master of the modern plot twist (no sarcasm, I really admire him for that {and yes, The Village included}), would have slapped the scriptwriter in the face out of the twist’s stupidity. It turns out that Molly was born prematurely and without warning in a restaurant bathroom. Molly was going to die, but a woman came into the bathroom and offered Molly’s parents eighteen years of Molly’s life in exchange for her soul in service of the Devil. Uh…okay?

Out of desperation, Molly goes to Alexis, who, with Molly’s consent, baptizes her. And then we get another poor twist: Alexis was in on Molly’s past the entire time, and attempts to “save” her by drowning her. Molly fights back and inadvertently kills Alexis. Still desperate, Molly encounters Joseph, who hears Molly’s ordeal and decides to help her. And then we get the next plot twist. It turns out that the woman who offered the deal to Molly’s parents was actually Molly’s school’s guidance counselor (who we’ve only ever seen once in the entire movie), and that Joseph and several other people whose identities escape me are working with her. They have abducted Molly’s dad. He is presented before her and they say that the only way to stop the induction into this Satanic cult is for Molly to kill her own father. Molly raises the knife to do the deed, but the clock strikes midnight. Realizing she is too late, Molly stabs herself in an attempt to deny the cult her soul, but then we receive the final plot twist: Molly cannot harm herself, as her induction into this Satanic cult was predestined. Wow. Fade to black.

We essentially get an epilogue. It took me a while thinking about it to get the idea, but I think I’ve got it. We fade from black and see that Molly has accepted Satanism with open arms. She abandons her father to a mental institution, graduates from school as valedictorian, has a successful relationship with Joseph, and essentially has a much happier life. Uh…go Satanism?

This film went beyond Sunshine. This was not atheism or anti-theism. This was Satanism. In The Haunting of Molly Hartley, not only were Christians demonized as homicidal, but Satanism was promoted as a happy alternative. Wow. Wow. Unbelievable. Wow. I mean, WOW. I have never seen such a blatant promotion and veneration of Satanism in film to date and perhaps never will. It is movies like this that made me start this blog.

This is one of those films that not only is incredibly bad, but transcends badness and becomes offensive, insulting and painful. The Haunting of Molly Hartley earns a well-deserved spot on my Worst Movies list.

And then the final bit that hurt was this: Stephen Kay, the executive producer of this film, was the director of the incredibly disappointing and ultimately mind-numbingly boring Boogeyman, the very first film I reviewed on this blog. It’s nice to know that he had a bright future ahead of him.

It’s also not enough to know that I just dealt with Chace Crawford in The Covenant.

Final verdict: 0 out of 5 stars.

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