There are some movies that will cause your face to bleed from the constant scratching of it that goes on, simply because you do not understand what is happening, or why it is happening. Though all the key elements of a movie are there, like plot, characters, and a central conflict, the universe seems to say the movie should not exist.
“The Haunting of Molly Hartley” is kind of like this – a bewildering mindless drone in the army of faceless of teen horrors, with an ending that, if you’re not careful, will leave a red mark on your face because you’ve just been bitch slapped.
The Plot in 13 Words
High schooler must overcome her dark past and acclimate to her new school.
What I Thought
Haley Bennett is Molly Hartley, a girl who must come to terms with the lingering sensation that her mother wasn’t very nice to her many years ago. Really not nice. She tried to stab Molly in the chest with a pair of scissors and is presently in a mental institution. So Molly lives with her more-than-nice Dad as she moves to a new school. Here she finds a kid with a Zac Efron face and a John Krasinski voice (“The Covenant’s” Chace Crawford). His name is Joseph Young and he is making eyes at her. Unfortunately he’s got a girlfriend.
If this is starting to sound like a episode of the OC (minus the murderous mother), you’re on to something. It’s laughable how seriously the dialog takes itself, and more often than not the “boo” moments are merely caused by terrifying things that are totally not terrifying. These thingsinclude molly’s father, Joseph, and an IKEA catalog stuffed through her front door’s mail slot. The magnitude of items and people that trigger scary music is huge; you’d think at least once or twice it would turn out to be something actually scary, but the rest of the stuff are only flashbacks and visions you see in her head. So basically, the entire plot asks you to be afraid of nothing.
So it’s clearly not scary, and once a horror movie has failed to meet that standard (in fact a surprising amount of horror these days seems to forget it’s supposed to be “horror”), the only remaining hope is that can be funny. Unfortunately, funny is the opposite of scary, and has been since humans developed a limbic system. So the next option is sexy and stylin.’ That seems to be the movie’s motto, at least, with plenty of short-skirted school girl outfits, hot party dresses, and gratuitous cleavage shots. It’s only PG-13, though, so like my dog, it’s neutered. Their scare tactics are too juvenile to actually be scary without blood, gore, or girls all by themselves walking naked out of the shower to investigate the strange noises in the rest of the house.
There are obviously some supernatural elements to the story, as apparently Molly’s mom tried to kill her because she didn’t want “them” to take her. In the last twenty minutes of the movie, the plot takes a turn for the better as Alexis, the good Christian girl responds to Molly’s fears about the Devil’s involvement in her past. Any gains, however, are lost in the last five minutes. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one in the theatre wishing the mom had been able to use that pair of scissors effectively. Skip It. 4/10