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The Haunting of Molly Hartley
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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A Nutshell Review: The Haunting of Molly Hartley

Author: DICK STEEL from Singapore
16 January 2009

I guess all teenage starlets have to go through their cinematic rites of passage by having some horror flick under their belt. So far I've seen every film on the big screen that Haley Bannett had starred in, from her breakthrough role as the uber-sexy Cora "Buddha's Delight" Corman in Music and Lyrics, to Kendall of College, and now, the titular character in this horror film. Save for her debut, everything else had been of dubious quality, and I'm afraid without another hit soon, she'll more than be forgotten and should concentrate on her singing career instead.

The film begins in some spooky woods in the 70s where a girl, on the cusp of her 18th birthday, begins to hear voices swirling around, and eventually got deliberately killed by her father. We don't know why, because we're suddenly transported to today, and to the bedroom of Molly Hartley, who is starting life afresh with her father (Jake Weber) in a new town.

The focus is then shifted to high school pangs, of having to deal with new rivals, new potential love interest Joseph (Chace Crawford), and new friends such as the rebel Leah (Shannon Marie Woodward) and Bible-thumper Alexis (Shanna Collins). And because of a near fatal accident involving her mother, Molly's got regular shrink schedules with the school resident councillor Dr. Emerson (Nina Siemaszko), where doubts are planted in the audience mind that Molly's not who she really seemed, having strange habits of going to the toilet to hyperventilate, or hearing voices of unknown folks again swirling around her, or experience hallucinations which provide for plenty of cheap scare tactics. Scenes like these were repeated ad-nauseam.

But they are nothing frightening, because the movie has an entire look and feel of High School Musical, save the characters don't break out into song and dance. A little bit of positivity about the film is that there was an air of mystery about it, having this cool scream queen who doesn't know what her destiny is, always possessing this edgy feel to her character that there's more than meets they eye, holding you in some suspense. Coupled with the strange and slow revelation on what happened between Molly and her mom, it leaves you guessing for the most part.

Until it decided to play it fast, and here's where the loopholes all start to appear really dumb in this hurried mode to finish the story off. You laugh as it went from scene to scene and not made much sense, and the worst part of it all was how it leapt into some bubblegum pop type of film, betraying all instances of sane thriller development into something that could have been the Wow factor when revealed, instead of the Duh factor. In doing what it did, it showed the filmmakers had lack of flair and skill, making some very strange decisions to have the story take on this flaccid psycho-babble route, and lacking any compelling characters to feel for. Heck, there's not even a decent body count too.

The Haunting of Molly Hartley had an idea, but alas the translation of this idea into a feature film, with eye candy looking cast and all, failed miserably. Save your money, and fans of Haley Bennett would be better off watching her (non) performance on rented DVD instead.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Started Out Strong But Ended on a Whimper

Author: John (john_ccy) from San Francisco, CA
2 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I actually enjoyed most of the movie except the last 5 minutes, which ruined everything for me. It's a pretty serviceable PG-13 horror film otherwise. There were several effective scares (albeit not of the torture porn kind) mostly just the jump scares kind, but also some real one too (with knives, etc.) This movie is clearly targeted at teenage girls and to get a PG-13 rating, so if you go into it with that mindset the scare level is pretty decent and what you would expect for a PG-13 movie.

Now onto what I hated about the ending: *****MAJOR SPOILERS ALERT (i.e. the entire ending)***** I have to say, the ending was very disappointing and made me feel that I wasted the entire movie worried about her soul getting taken by the devil, since in the last resolution scenes, the way the movie portrays it, it didn't seem so bad for her after all.

She graduates as the valedictorian, ends up with a hot boyfriend, becomes part of the popular crowd, and it's implied that she'll go on to a life a privilege, power, and position. Big deal. It doesn't effectively portray what might potentially happen after that.

It's like if they had ended "Faust" near the middle when he's still enjoying all of the benefits of trading his soul tot he devil rather than following it all the way through to the later horrible consequences of that.

Also, one part that I felt could have been explained better (and seemed to confuse a lot of commenters) is the stabbing at the end, and why the lead devil-worshiper said "Now you're one of us" when she stabs herself rather than her father.

They actually had to get her to do that to seal the deal so her soul would be "damned" forever. (Yeah, I'm a lapsed Catholic, who went through Catholic high school...) According to what I learned in Catholic school, at least, suicide is considered the only sin that can never be absolved and condemns the person to hell forever because not only are they committing the sin of murder but they would never be able to receive last rites before they died. They used to bury people who committed suicide outside of the church graveyard, because being damned forever precluded them from being able to be buried on "hallowed ground." Anyway, they should have explained that better in the movie.

So, in balance, everything except the last 5 minutes is a relatively serviceable PG-13 scare fest, but then everything goes down the drain after that.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Don't Let The Haters Win, OK Movie!

Author: katyzone from Elm Mott
24 February 2009

Really. Good acting. Fair production values. Thinking persons script. Make your own opinions and don't let the hate win! Bennet's acting was very good. She can definitely hold her own. Look forward to seeing her in more productions once she gets past this. Hopefully the critical pan of this movie won't taint her, even though I thought the movie was okay.

Bennet is a truly beautiful and expressive actress (I read she sings and has a lovely voice as well).

I thought it was realistic, and watch, it will be a semi-cult movie once the critical debris fades and the haters move on and the thoughtful move up.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Woah Molly, I think we took a few wrong turns!!!

Author: andell ( from Toronto, Canada
2 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In going in to see this film, I tried to keep my inner critic silent. I knew this one, in spite of a title that seems to infer some comparison to "The Exorcism of Emily Rose, was almost certainly going to be a watered down version of a scare film.

What I didn't expect was to find a movie that functions, in practical terms, like an all out assault on Christian faith. But we'll get to that in a moment.

The movie starts with the experience of a girl (who I think was named "Lauren") who's rendez vous with her loving boyfriend is cut short by her strict father. Succeptable to these intense headaches, poor Lauren learns that her father's demeanor isn't so much that he hates her boyfriend, but rather that he's decided he's going to spare her from becoming a servant of the devil. A car accident and shard of glass later, and Lauren's story is over.

Another 17 year old girl, poor Molly, is recovering from having been stabbed in the chest by her wacko fundamentalist Mother. Enter that brooding demeanor (including an initial refusal to accept help) and the interest from the rich, pretty boy, along with the hatred from the pretty boy's girlfriend, and you're up to speed.

This movie is never sure about anything, except its contempt for religious faith. Molly, when she turns 18, is to inherit these incredible powers...however she is being tormented by what would appear to be the vary evil force she will command. How does that work? Is it God who is tormenting Molly? The only people who attempt to hurt Molly...are her mother (twice), religious school mate while she is baptizing her, and Molly herself to no avail. Its pretty hard to miss the obvious contradiction there in that murder is against God's commandments, however followers of God are the one's attempting to commit murder.

In the end, Molly gets the power, is the school's valedictorian, gets the pretty boy (who is apparently PART of the deal), while her father is abandoned in a mental hospital, and a Doctor asks her at the end "is there anything you want to tell me?" I couldn't help but think he was really asking if there was anything I wanted to tell them. I had a few choice words.

To summarize, there is NOTHING scary in this film...outside of a LOUD score that pops up to jolt you occasionally, the film is predictable and laughable.

It gets an extra star because try as I might, I can't resist just how cute Chace Crawford is! But at an iffy 2/10, I'd still recommend you not invest in a movie ticket for this stinker...if you rent it on DVD, you can see much more of the pretty boy.

It occurs to me that movies like these are like strolls through a garden. Nothing truly scary going on from your perspective, and some pretty flowers to look at.

I think a stroll through your garden may be more rewarding. ;-)

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

"The Haunting of Molly Hartley" Will Leave You Wanting Something Better Like "Rosemary's Baby."

Author: zardoz-13 from United States
2 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Since he produced 50 episodes of "Everwood," executive producer Mickey Liddell has gotten some other ideas about the trials that single fathers face raising their teenage daughters. Liddell transplants the "Everwood" premise to a horror setting in his directorial debut with "The Haunting of Molly Hartley," a lukewarm supernatural chiller about the demonic possession of a paranoid 17-year old prep school student and her single dad who worries about her safety. Clearly, Liddell and his scenarists missed the spectacular "Omen" sequel "Damien: Omen II" (1978) about a 13-yeard old private school student who took advantage of his powers as the anti-Christ to wreak anarchy. Imagine what the Roman Polanski classic "Rosemary's Baby" (1968) would have been like if the infant had been forced to wait until her 18th birthday to emerge as evil incarnate, and you've got a good idea what is in store for you with this predictable PG-13 thriller.

Additionally, "The Haunting" does itself no favors with its negative frontal assault on mainstream evangelical Christianity. As one of the villains, a deranged female Christian teen tries to drown our troubled heroine so Satan cannot claim her soul. "The Haunting" may rake in millions at the box office east, west, and north, but you can already hear Tupelo-based Donald Wildman leveling broadsides against it here in the South. Aside from some intense scares that may startle some, this low-budget, derivative thriller lacks the element of surprise. "The Haunting" qualifies as a revisionist horror movie, too. In traditional horror pictures, Good conquers Evil. In revisionist horror epics, however, Evil triumphs over Good. "American Zombie" scenarist Rebecca Sonnenshine rewrote freshman writer John Travis' script, but neither Mickey Liddell nor she can do much with this hokum. Banal dialogue, contrived predicaments, incoherent writing, and hopeless stereotypes eviscerate the horror content.

"The Haunting" opens with a pre-credit scene whose characters that have nothing to do with the rest of the film, but serve to put the plot into context. The year is 1997, and Laura (Jessica Lowndes) has a rendezvous with her boyfriend Michael (Randy Wayne) in the woods at an abandoned house. Laura's father (Jamie McShane) appears unexpectedly and hauls his daughter away from Michael and into his truck. Careening off down the road with her, the father pulls into the path of a laden farm vehicle that T-bones them in a violent crash. The grieving father grabs a broken piece of mirror and stabs his daughter to death to save her from 'the darkness.' "The Haunting" then shifts to the present day and the problems that Molly Hartley (Jodie Foster look-alike Haley Bennett of "Music & Lyrics") faces as she shows up at an elitist prep school Huntington Academy.

Molly's life has been anything but a picnic. Molly's mom Jane (Marin Hinkle of "Quarantine") tried to kill her by stabbing her in the chest. Since the incident occurred, Jane Hartley has been locked away in an asylum near the town that Molly's dad Robert (Jake Webber of "U-571") has decided to locate near so they can visit her. Molly is neither crazy about her new school nor its atrocious uniform apparel. Strange things happen when Molly enters an English class where they are analyzing British poet John Milton's "Paradise Lost." At one point, blood drips from her nose when she opens the Bible. Clearly, old Nick isn't happy. Moreover, Molly has begun to hear voices. Worse, she hallucinates that her mother is trying to finish what she started. Desperate to save herself, Molly converts to Christianity at the insistence of Alexis who tries to drown her in the baptistery.

"The Haunting" relies on a gallery of stereotypes. Molly's father forever frets about her welfare. Huntington Academy hunk Joseph Young (Chase Crawford of "The Covenant") has babes smacking each other around over him. Joseph is the son of the wealthiest man in town. Joseph's jealous, blond, ex-girlfriend Suzie (AnnaLynne McCord of "Transporter 2") refuses to give him up without fighting Molly. Their catfight concludes too quickly, but Suzie's comeuppance is amusing. You know dark-haired Leah (Shannon Marie Woodward of "The Comebacks") is the bad girl because she smokes marihuana in the girl's lavatory, pilfers cafeteria lunch items, and wears torn fishnet hose. Born-again scholarship babe Alexis (Shanna Collins of "War of the Worlds") alienates everybody with her complete lack of tact.

Altogether, "The Haunting" qualifies as a chick-flick friendly horror opus about a teenager-in-turmoil. Hardcore horror fanatics will feel cheated by the scarcity of blood & gore. The menacing moments consist of birds flying out of nowhere and snarling dogs suddenly lunging up against chain-link fences. Mail plunging through a drop slot in the door at Molly's house sounds like an avalanche. Indeed, Liddell suggests the violence more often than shows it. You won't see any knives penetrating flesh. Several characters die, but Liddell artfully conceals the gruesome details. Typically, mainstream PG-13 movies for teens cannot show them imbibing alcoholic beverages without receiving an R-rating that cuts into the film's box office earnings. Molly's mother takes a header off a balcony, somersaulting between the floors before she lands face down on the bottom with virtually no damange done to her physique. Clocking in at 86 marginal minutes, "The Haunting of Molly Hartley" will leave you wanting for something more stimulating like "Rosemary's Baby."

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Scariest thing about this movie is how bad it is!

Author: autobahnsau from United States
31 October 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

My girlfriend wanted to keep it low key this Halloween and go catch a scary movie but we didn't want to go see the played out "Saw" series so we went to this expecting some thrills and good time "B-movie" fun. Sorely disappointed. I actually left the theater to see when Saw or anything else was playing instead, but no luck. The "scares" were too obviously telegraphed and there were none of the special effects teasers we see in the previews.In fact there were little to no special effects at all, the budget on this film should have allowed for at least one or two awesome makeup effects or cool plot devices.In addition there was an entire lack of psychological horror or tension!Everything was so dull and predictable we kept hoping something would turn around or at least show some sign of intelligence but no!Ladies, if you are going for Chase Crawford he is a mess here. Yeah he's an attractive guy but he is utterly useless in this and his acting is bad. The lead girl cannot hold anyones attention at all and I'm sorry but her acting is wooden and distracted.It all felt like 90210 (the new one) meets "Carrie" and and "The Omen" but doesn't hold a candle to those. The direction was lazy and cinematography so by-the-book that Ihonestly think that someone with NO film experience could have done a better job.Not worth it.Not even as a fun B-movie or cult classic! DO NOT SEE THIS FILM!You'll just end up saying you want your time and money back.Total waste.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

The Haunting of Molly Hartley (2008)

Author: suspiria10 from The Void
25 February 2009

Rating: 2 out of 4 (OK)

Genre: Horror / Thriller / Supernatural

Director: Mickey Liddell

Stars: Haley Bennett, Jake Weber, Chace Crawford, Shannon Marie Woodward, Shanna Collins, AnnaLynne McCord, Marin Hinkle, Nina Siemaszko, Josh Stewart, Jessica Lowndes

Synopsis: Molly's a 17-year-old starting a new school after moving to a new town since her mother tried killing her by stabbing her in the chest. All seems to be going well but hallucinations and nosebleeds lead her to believe that something will happen to her on her eighteenth birthday.

Thoughts: 'Molly Hartley' is a supernatural thriller that does its hardest to channel the spirit of films like 'Rosemary's Baby' with a healthy dose of '90210'-like teen angst drama. Since the scares are all of the jump variety and no sustainable atmosphere is anywhere to be found 'Molly' just spins around in the tired circles of the latest CW drama. I guess it should come as no surprise that the powers that be loaded this one with the beautiful faces that populate '90210' and 'Gossip Girl'. Heck looking at the IMDb filmography and you start to think that 'Molly Hartley' seems more at home on the Lifetime Movie Channel than on the big screen. The cast and crew do a decent enough job with a script that plays more like a 90 minute episode of a teen drama series with a slight supernatural twinge and a thoroughly nut-scratching finale.

In Conclusion: Taylor made for 'tweens and teens, 'The Haunting of Molly Hartley' is just a tepid thriller that builds ever-so-slowly to a crescendo of mediocrity.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Save your money and see something else

Author: darksoulhunterk5
1 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

So after seeing this I realize I wasted my money seeing this trash. The film begins with a girl playing a follow the notes type of game with her boyfriend, until her dad interrupts and they have their daughter-father argument. Then the father breaks down, goes crazy, and kills his daughter. The story then jumps to Molly, who's had problems coping with the stress of her mother's insanity. Though locked up in the asylum, she sees her mother chanting things such as "I've got to save you" "this is for your own good" It's all fun and entertaining at first, but the movie seems to just loop in a circle.This movie is a big disappointment, as I had some expectations from it.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The Haunting of Molly Hartley

Author: lorpim from Australia
24 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie had its ups and downs. Yes, it kept your interest going but a lot of parts were confusing and hard to understand. I had to watch it a second time and look at the bulletin board to fully understand the ending and the gist of the movie. I would recommend it if you have nothing else to watch and it is also very short. I would have liked to see more acting by Chance Crawford and maybe a different lead character but she was fine. I was disappointed by the way things turned out in the movie but whatever. I found it odd,eerie and a bit depressing. But entertaining. P.S. Did not suspect the Christian girl to attempt to kill Molly or the guidance counselor to be the one who sold the parents 18 years with Molly.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Beyond "awful"

Author: PoisonKeyblade from Long Island, New York
3 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Okay, I will try my very best to make this a somewhat "fair" review. I wanted to like this movie. And I'm not just saying that either. I love teen horror movies, I'm a big fan of such fare as The Craft and The Covenant, and I sometimes even like questionable fare like I Know Who Killed Me and The Eye. The Haunting of Molly Hartley, however, was equally as bad being drowned in a vat of holy water, like one of the characters in the movie. It stings the eyes and the soul and it's void of any sort of real emotion. The only scenes that were even worth watching were those which involved heartthrob Chace Crawford, but more on that later. The Haunting of Molly Hartley is directed by first-timer Mickey Liddell, and has a cast which consists of (from best to worst) Chace Crawford, Shannon Marie Woodward, Haley Bennett, AnnaLynne McCord, Shanna Collins, and Jake Weber.

Molly Hartley has had a tough life. Her mother tried to kill her, but she survived, and now she's trying to put her troubled past behind her by starting anew. As the theatrical trailer tells you, Molly's parents made a deal with the devil to save her life, but the day she turns 18, her soul will belong to him.

Okay, so the plot wasn't the best thing in the world, but it could have easily evolved into a semi-decent Halloween flick. Instead, for the entirety of the film, the script remains stuck in the mud. It would all make sense, had things led anywhere. Instead, the movie's last fifteen minutes make everything else seem random. Things are thrown constantly at you nonstop, and you expect them to make sense or be explained at a later time, as is the formula for most movies. For instance, Molly's mother appears in the bathroom once, and she says "The nurse believed me, so she let me out." We are never given any explanation for this. No funeral for the mother, no mourning from the father or daughter, no arrest of the nurse, no glimpse of the mental hospital which could have been a potentially terrifying setup. Everywhere there's potential, it is simply squandered in favor of moving quickly.

That leads me to another complaint. The film is literally 87 minutes long. With movies like Saw V, a fast pace is warmly welcomed, as we already know most of the characters. With something like Molly Hartley, if we had more time for characters, setup, everything basically, then it would become an exponentially better film. Honestly, at its best, Haunting of Molly Hartley is a teen drama. The scenes at Joseph's house work so well because they aren't trying to hard to scare us, they are genuinely interesting. In some scenes, there are echoes of great teen shows like Gossip Girl and 90210, but then the very next it completely falls apart.

At its worst, this film fails as a "scary" movie. If the long, drawn-out scare scenes that lead to nothing were stripped away, we would be left (at most) with a half-hour long film. There was literally nothing to this movie. There's a mother with scissors, a ghost with no explanation who appears for a fraction of a second in one scene, and a "devil" who is better left in made-for-TV movies. Halloween: H20 was the perfect scare formula. At first, it would fake the audience out a couple times with a few "false" scares, but then it got into the really terrifying stuff and didn't let up. The Haunting of Molly Hartley takes the opposite route. It supplies the audience with an endless supply of "false" scares and never gets in to the good stuff. It tried to have plot twists, but they made no sense when coupled with the rest of the movie.

Even with all these complaints (and I could go on for a very, very long time), I kept watching the movie just for Chace Crawford and in the hopes that it would get better and that the end of the movie would leave me breathless. While Crawford tries really, really hard, he simply cannot overcome the terrible script or even the absolutely ridiculous twists and turns of the plot. As if the movie wasn't bad enough already, the final fifteen minutes alone make The Haunting of Molly Hartley one of the worst movies of the year. It tries to have a Saw-esquire ending, and it tried to be clever about it, but the end leaves so many major characters and events in the movie in the dust that it's almost something a kindergartener could have written.

If it's not obvious enough, this movie was absolutely, positively, one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Don't waste your money on it, whatever you do. It was absolutely awful. In the end, you feel empty, as if you have wasted time in your life that you will NEVER get back. It's a shame, too. This movie had such wasted potential. It could have been great. Instead, it ended up about as scary as a towel.

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