One of the things that most surprised me when I first visited America was just how similar it was to the movies.
The landscape, the language (catch phrases etc) and even the characters seem so familiar that it’s quite easy to feel like you’re in a movie yourself when you visit. It’s pretty surreal (unless you are American of course).
Perhaps Hollywood films – which often seem farfetched and unrealistic to the outsider – are just far more accurate at portraying American life. Or perhaps the powerful influence of the silver screen has made the American public live up to the roles that they see so often in the media.
Either way, by using this rationale, it’s easy to come to one decision. American school life can’t be easy. Particularly if you aren’t perfect, and especially if you might be possessed.
Take Molly Hartley’s new school for instance. All of the girls are beautiful, the boys are handsome, most of them are rich (some considerably so) and if you aren’t clever, or good at sport, then you’re going to have a miserable time there.
It doesn’t help if you have skeletons in your closet either. Molly has major issues, mostly attributed to the fact that her mother tried to stab her to death.
As a result, the poor girl suffers from a number of symptoms including hallucinations, headaches, nosebleeds, and flash-backs to the time when her Mum (convinced that Molly was evil) tried to end her life.
Her father tries his best to make things right, but seems to be fighting a losing battle.
Molly’s issues – along with the pressure for her to fit in at school and do well in her studies – lead her to collapse on occasion, and as she approaches her 18th birthday, her condition seems to deteriorate.
Is Molly losing her mind? Or was her mother right? Is there an evil curse upon her that needs to be cleansed?
It’s all a little unexpected. By the film title, you may assume that this is going to be another possession/exorcism style adventure. But it really isn’t. Instead, it’s a teen drama with satanic elements which has little in the way of blood, big scares and action.
In this American society where everyone seems to fit a role, be it jock, cheerleader, geek, religious nut and so on, it seems that there is a desire to be ‘the special one’, the person that stands out and is different. And it’s always made to seem quite appealing, even if it does involve being ‘haunted’ or troubled.
The sheer number of films that follow this same formula does make you wonder – even though so many of these kids do just follow the mainstream, perhaps they would all like to be different really.
And that’s what makes The Haunting of Molly Hartley so strange. On the surface it would seem to be a mildly scary film about a girl fighting to save her soul from the forces of darkness. But more obviously, it is a film about peer pressure and the struggle to find individuality.
It’s a smooth film. Big budget, good casting, good dialogue.
Although it isn’t the most eventful of horror movies. there is the odd shock here and there to keep you on your toes and there is a certain something about The Haunting of Molly Hartley that makes it watchable. Hopefully it’s more to do with the story and the way in which it’s conveyed, and isn’t just down to all of those beautiful people with their perfect teeth, hair, and bronzed, zit-free skin.
It’s a film that is aimed at the Twilight generation. A step into what is perhaps a scarier place, and (lets all hope) a stepping stone to far more dark and terrifying things for those who have grown to like the idea of friendly, twinkling vampires.
The Haunting of Molly Hartley could leave true horror fans feeling nauseous. But for those teenage horror saplings out there, it’s good fun and even takes some unexpected turns.
Molly Hartley may be haunted, but you probably won’t be.