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By Jennifer LB Leese
With roughly 400 people in attendance, including yours truly and family, Mayor Bob Bruchey, County Commissioner John Barr, President and CEO of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau and several CVB board members, filmmakers, cast and crew of Lovely Molly, and many from the community, the November 12th invitation-only cast and crew screening at Leitersburg Cinemas was a hit.
Lovely Molly by Haxan Films, Amber Entertainment, an Eduardo Sanchez's (The Blair Witch Project) 99-minute movie was filmed in Hagerstown.
"There's a lot of history in Maryland," Sanchez said. "I'm right in the middle of a lot of Civil War battlefields so there's a massive amount of violent death that occurred all around me. I guess I tap into that sometimes because my best ideas come to me while driving down the isolated country roads around my home. I pop in my ipod (SCARY playlist) and let my mind wander.
"The house where we shot Lovely Molly is a prime example of the kind of location gem that can be found in this area. Two hundred years old, in the middle of nowhere on over 200 acres, the house seeped a certain creepiness that I think found itself onto the film. At least it affected me as the director. A lot of crew and even Gretchen (Molly) stayed there alone at night - Not me," he added.
Newly married, Molly (Gretchen Lodge) and Tim (Johnny Lewis) move into Molly's family home years - a centuries-old run down manor.
The movie begins with an up-close shot of Molly crying into the camera while holding a knife to her throat saying, "I'm not in control anymore". The scene then moves to video footage of Molly and Tim's wedding, and then it's off to the house where the story unfolds.
Tim, a truck driver, is gone for days at a time, leaving Molly, a custodial worker at the Valley Mall, to deal with her demons in the house that holds many painful memories. As an ex-addict, Molly soon finds herself struggling with her deeply disturbing past. The nightly disturbances begin almost immediately; frightening the couple, who, at first, think it's an intruder. When Tim leaves for another trip, Molly's seclusion in the house quickly sends her on a mental and physical roller coaster, in where she beings to question reality and her sanity.
The malevolent force takes hold of Molly. Not wanting to relive her past, she grabs a camcorder and begins documenting her experiences. The erratic behavior she displays at work and at home terrifies her husband and her sister Hannah (Alexandra Hodge).
When prescription pills don't help calm her, their pastor (Field Blauvelt) comes to help her talk things through, but the conversation ends quickly as Molly spends their time together sending him sexual invitations. When Tim and Hannah's assistance falls on deaf ears, everything Molly holds dear is cast aside as evil takes over.
"This movie keeps you on the edge of your seat," said Terri Black, screening-goer.
Together, director Eduardo Sanchez and co-director Daniel Myrick broke new ground when filming The Blair Witch Project, which is said to of birthed the filming by way of putting-the-camera-in-character's-hands approach. This concept was then used in movies such as Cloverfield, The Haunted Forest, the Witch Hunter, Paranormal Activity, and many others.
"Lovely Molly is in first-person cinema...We [Sanchez and Daniel] weren't the originators, but we definitely popularized it and took it to a new level," said Sanchez.
Although Lovely Molly was not filmed using this method entirely, the moments that it was used are essential to the scare-factor of the film and allow the viewer to witness the main character's extrication more in depth.
Sanchez keeps the action rolling the entire length of the film - increasing the suspense with every scene. The soundtrack by Chicago band Tortoise adds to the hair-raising scenes in the movie.
"There's something about us that wants to see misery and experience fear...roller coasters, a haunted house...there's everyday danger of being killed by something or being attacked," Sanchez said. "I like horror movies because, but ever since Blair Witch...I've never really seen myself as a horror filmmaker, but I love horror movies and the thing I enjoy about making them is that the horror genre now has sub genres where you can lay in a little bit of comedy, you can do action, and you can deal with some heavy issues that you really can't do in other films other than in social dramas. Lovely Molly deals with some things that would be categorized strictly as drama and because it has horror elements, you can kind of gage and grab a bigger audience."
Making her debut performance, Gretchen Lodge, played a very convincing part as the unraveling Molly. Alexandra Holden touched our hearts with her tear-jerking performance, and Johnny Lewis has us pulling for him and their marriage.
The film whirls into a collage of implied sexual abuse, violence, bloodshed, and an ending scene that suggests a possible sequel.
This gripping horror is a must-see.
"Well worth the price of a movie ticket," said Nick and his date Kellen.
A release date of the movie was not told during the Q&A, however, there are many individuals who are anticipating its release so we may view it on the big screen again.
"Can't wait to see the movie again," said teens Jordan and Cameron.
About the characters:
Johnny Lewis (Tim) has appeared in various TV and film projects such as Sons of Anarchy (two seasons), Felon, the Runaways, City of Gardens, Criminal Minds, Cold Case, Bones, CSI, Smallville, and much more. And according to the IMDb website, he currently lives in New York and Los Angeles.
According to IMDb, Alexandra Holden has appeared in TV and film projects such as Cold Case, The Mentalist, Private Practice, CSI: Miami, Friday Night Lights, Six Feet Under, and many more. Her most recent credits include Let Go (in post-production), Covert Affairs, and Friends with Benefits.
Gretchen Lodge's film credits, according to the IMDb website, began this year with "The Cigar Collector" where she played Scout and "Lovely Molly" as Molly.
What others are saying: (From the LovelyMolly.com website)
"LOVELY MOLLY will capture your attention and have you completely immersed from start to finish..."
"...Eduardo Sanchez is exceptional at taking a simple concept and a small budget, and turning it into something visceral, haunting, and meaningful..." -- Fangoria
"...Eduardo Sanchez shows there's still life in his old "Blair Witch" tricks, launching a promising new talent in Gretchen Lodge..."
"...Eduardo Sanchez's return to the territory of The Blair Witch Project is another unsettling slice of gripping first-person horror..." --The Hollywood Reporter
"...Gretchen Lodge who delivers as absolutely fearless & often astounding performance..."
"...Eduardo Sanchez turns in what is arguably the finest film of his career with Lovely Molly..." --Twitch
"...Well performed slow-burning horror tale that doesn't jump out at you with a blatant brand of scares, but rather it slowly eats away at the viewer's sense of refuge..."
"... It is guaranteed to haunt you for hours or possibly days afterward..." --DreadCentral.com
Eduardo Sanchez's supernatural film is R rated and is for mature audiences only, and I highly recommend it.
Lovely Molly was written by Eduardo Sanchez and Jamie Nash, directed by Sanchez, executive produced by Andy Jenkins and Robert Eick, and produced by Robin Cowie, Gregg Hale, Jane Fleming, and Mark Ordesk.
To learn more about the movie and to view a trailer of Lovely Molly visit www.lovelymolly.com. Find them on Facebook(r) - www.facebook.com/lovelymolly