Perhaps even more than film itself, I’m a fan of characters and acting. Great actors and actresses are capable of transcending reality, giving life to characters that otherwise would not exist. Save for the performances in films such as The Exorcist and The Silence of the Lambs, the horror genre is unjustly neglected by the masses, though it gives us examples of brilliant acting time and again. In celebration of Women in Horror Month, I’m taking a look at a performance that was not only neglected by critics, but casual fans alike.
LOVELY MOLLY is a 2012 psychological horror film from the brilliant Eduardo Sanchez that follows newlyweds, Molly and Tim, as they move into Molly’s childhood home. Once there, Molly becomes haunted by a supernatural entity, as well as her past in the house, including the hinted at sexual abuse from her father and her previous addiction to heroin. Entirely underrated, underseen, and underappreciated, LOVELY MOLLY is masterfully directed by Sanchez, but the film truly soars on the powerful performance of Gretchen Lodge. This is a film that’s worth watching for the performance alone, which rivals the greatest acting showcases in horror history.
Molly is a broken woman hiding behind a facade of optimism. She weds Tim, prepared to finally put the tragic past behind her, but the events of her past never cease to catch up with her future. Throughout the film, Molly is haunted by a supernatural, demonic entity, but the demons most damaging to Molly’s psyche are her own – something Lodge displays in ways that elicit sympathy, sadness, and fear. She plays Molly as being not just afraid of what’s haunting her, but also afraid of herself.
There’s a faux strength that shines through Gretchen’s performance, which makes Molly’s downward spiral all the more heartbreaking. We root for her to succeed, but we physically see and effortlessly understand the realistic struggle that she’s going through. When Molly finally does revert back to her vices, we genuinely feel for her because we’ve seen just how tirelessly she’s worked to overcome them.
In addition to being tasked with eliciting sympathy through her brokenness, Gretchen Lodge is also put in a position in which she has to turn that sympathy on its head and make the viewer just as afraid of Molly as Molly is of herself. Though it’s no simple task to persuade viewer’s emotions in such a way, Lodge shatters our expectations and digs into our skin with the broken pieces of herself. Since you likely haven’t seen the film (what are you waiting for?), I won’t divulge spoilers on the horrific acts of Molly, but they are just that – horrific.
LOVELY MOLLY is worth several watches simply to admire everything Gretchen Lodge brings to the table, as her performance rests alongside the all-time greats. In a month that celebrates the women of the horror genre, and even beyond that, she deserves your recognition.