LOVELY MOLLY (Eduardo Sánchez). 100 minutes. Opens Friday (June 1). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NN
There's a really powerful character study - a gripping, wrenching drama with a fantastic performance by screen newcomer Gretchen Lodge as a fragile young woman disintegrating under inexplicable psychological stress - inside Lovely Molly.
At least I think that's the movie writer/director Eduardo Sánchez wanted to make at the outset. But he's trapped himself into making a horror movie, so all he can do is pile on the scary stuff and hope it clicks.
The biggest problem is that the story is nearly identical to the first Paranormal Activity: a young couple's happiness is slowly shredded by supernatural phenomena that begin as minor annoyances and escalate into something far nastier. The movie even incorporates grainy camcorder footage of things going bump in the night, though of course Sánchez more or less invented that trope when he co-directed The Blair Witch Project way back in 1999.
He isn't exactly spinning his wheels here, but neither is he breaking new ground. And as great as Lodge is in the title role, in the end she's as much a victim of the script's clichés as Molly is of whatever's tormenting her.