Director: Mickey Liddell
Cast: Chace Crawford, Haley Bennett, Shannon
Marie Woodward, Shanna Collins, AnnaLynne McCord
RunTime:1 hr 30 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: PG (Some Violence)
Official Website: http://www.thehauntingofmollyhartley.com
Opening Day: 15 January 2009
In this tale of spell binding suspense, something evil lurks
just beneath the lush surfaces of teenaged girl's private
school world - and it holds the rights to her very soul. Now,
on the eve of her 18th birthday, Molly Hartley is about to
discover the truth of just who, or rather what, it is she
is destined to become...
The story of Molly Hartley unfolds at first like a teen drama as Molly (HALEY BENNETT, Music and Lyrics) bravely tries to start her life all over again after surviving her mother’s bizarre attack on her in the midst of a psychotic breakdown. Now, in her posh new private school, Molly is finally starting to fit in, as she draws the thrilling attention of super popular rich-kid, Joseph (CHACE CRAWFORD, “Gossip Girl”). But even as she is thrust into a realm of hot parties and hallway gossip, she is haunted by creepy visions and eerie experiences that have her wondering just what is really happening to her.
Everyone wants to help Molly succeed in moving past her mother’s madness. Her father (JAKE WEBER, “Medium”) keeps a close watch over her. Her two new friends – the rebellious Leah (SHANNON MARIE WOODWARD, “The Riches”) and the angelically evangelical Alexis (SHANNA COLLINS, “Swingtown,” War of the Worlds) – each try to pull her into their different social worlds. Even the school’s psychologist Dr. Emerson (NINA SIEMASZKO, “The West Wing”) is doing everything in her power to help Molly get a fresh lease on life.
Or so it seems.
Yet, even as Molly giddily flirts with Joseph and butts heads with Joseph’s competitive ex-girlfriend (ANNALYNNE MCCORD, “Nip/Tuck”), she can’t escape the chilling visions and spine-tingling voices that follow her everywhere. What do they mean? Why won’t they leave her alone? Is Molly doomed to lose her mind as her mother did?
Or is a dark secret from the past pushing Molly ever closer to a completing a deal that will seal her future forever?
It’s barely a month into the year 2009 and already here’s one prime candidate for the ‘Worst Movie of the Year’. Indeed, it won’t come as much as a surprise if it garners a nomination for each category of the Razzies. And no, this is not the kind of movie that’s so bad it’s good; it’s the kind that’s so bad it stinks.
First in line for the firing range is first-time director Mickey Liddell. One suspects that he may have read a manual of standard horror movie tricks before making this supposed horror-thriller, because he employs literally every predictable trick in the book by the book- Cheap boo scares? Check. Sudden loud noises? Check. Out of place ghostly wraith mirror scene? Check.
But it doesn’t take long before you realise that these are mere gimmicks he employs to distract from his lack of any creative imagination. If there’s anything that’s haunting Molly Hartley, it’s unfortunately going to be lost on any audience. Just as exasperating is director Liddell’s failure to build any form of suspense throughout- so even at a brief 86 minutes, the movie plods along at a leaden pace.
Of course, he has very little to work with in the first place. The story by John Travis and Rebecca Sonnenshine is clearly inspired by the much superior The Exorcism of Emily Rose and tries to hide its unoriginality by throwing in typical teen-girl catty drama.
So while troubled high-schooler Molly Hartley (Haley Bennett), just shy of her eighteenth birthday, fears the voices she hears and the visions she sees, she also begins to take a mutual interest in the school’s pretty-boy (Gossip Girl’s Chace Crawford) and thus contend with the jealousy of a blonde cheerleader type girl. Unfortunately, the Envy of Molly Hartley doesn’t blend with the Haunting of Molly Hartley so the result is just as incongruous as it sounds.
Even the cast make no effort to inject some life into the deader than dead plot. Haley Bennett is a pretty face to look at, but there is no depth to her performance as the distressed Molly Hartley. Her anguish is unlikely to garner much of your sympathy (or believability, for that matter). The rest of the pretty-teen cast, including Gossip Girl’s Chace Crawford and 90210’s AnneLynne McCord, are also just as unexceptional in their dully written, poorly fleshed out roles.
In short, save yourself from this tedium. There’s nothing here worth any minute of your time in the cinema. Come Razzies season, I’m putting my bet on this stinker to at the very least sweep all the nominations.
(Don’t let her Haunting turn into your Boredom)
Review by Gabriel Chong