Two exorcism films in two nights. I surely must be possessed.
The Exorcism of Molly Hartley is apparently a rare sequel to a straight-to-DVD film from 2008 called The Haunting of Molly Hartley. That one had Haley Bennett and Chace Crawford (from TV’s Gossip Girl), and other recognisable names such as AnnaLynn McCord and Jake Weber (I know it sounds like I’m being sarcastic but I actually recognise these names). I may have seen the film (poster rings a bell) but don’t remember a thing about it.
The story takes place years after the first one ended and features a completely new cast, led by Sarah Lind as the “grown up” Molly Hartley.
It doesn’t get off to the best of starts. The very first scene sees a priest looking through an exorcism kit before a camera focuses on the back of his closely-shaved head. The way the camera lingers and slowly zooms in makes you expect to see freaking Brad Pitt on the other side, but eventually it’s revealed to be…Devon Sawa!
I didn’t recognise him at first because it’s been that long. Remember Devon Sawa? The teen heartthrob who was at the cusp of superstardom with films like Casper, Idle Hands and Final Destination in the late 1990s all the way to the turn of the century? He was even the star of the music video for that Eminem song Stan, remember that?
Anyway, back to The Exorcism of Molly Hartley. Basically, Devon Sawa plays a priest ostracized by the church and gets the chance to redeem himself when Molly Hartley gets possessed (it can’t be a spoiler if it’s implied by the film title, right?).
To be fair, the film is better than The Vatican Tapes, which I saw the night before and was stunned by how derivative and shit it was. The experience of that shocker perhaps elevates Molly Hartley higher than it should be, but at least this one had a few decent attempts at scares, primarily through the ghastly appearances of the possessed victims. The plot also has a few twists and turns to keep it interesting. In all, despite not offering much else, it’s a better executed film than Vatican Tapes.
But a B-grade straight-to-DVD film is still just that. Molly Hartley is, to put it lightly, rough around the edges. There are scenes of unintentional comedy, logic and common sense gaps galore, and of course appalling dialogue. I can’t tell if certain sequences are homages to exorcism classics (include the classic) or poor imitations. I remember laughing out loud then being confused near the start of the movie when I heard that Molly had just been made the partner of a law firm at age 24. First of all, that’s impossible, and secondly, Sarah Lind looks like the oldest 24 year old in the world (she’s actually an old-looking 30 in real life). I would have been okay with cheesy, but much of this film is just plain bad.
Oh well, at least I got to see Devon Sawa again. He’s not in the best shape but at just 37 it’s not too late for a career revival. Unfortunately, this is not the film to kick that off.
Any other 2015 exorcism films to recommend?
2.25 stars out of 5