31 Days Of Streaming Horror: 'Lovely Molly' Turns Trauma Into Terror

Welcome to 31 Days of Streaming Horror. Every day this October we'll be highlighting a different streaming horror movie to help you get into the Halloween spirit. Today's entry: Lovely Molly (2012).

Lovely Molly

Now Streaming on Shudder

Sub-Genre: Sleep-ruining meditation on trauma and the occultBest Setting to Watch It In: In your cursed family homeHow Scary Is It?: Really, really f***ing scary

Past trauma often plays a big role in horror, and one of the best examples of this is Lovely MollyEduardo Sánchez's bone-chilling blend of found-footage and straightforward narrative. Sánchez is one-half of the duo that made The Blair Witch Project, but Lovely Molly is something else entirely. It's a legitimately scary film about how some of us are forever haunted, and defined, by our past traumas.

Gretchen Lodge delivers a stunning, brave performance as Molly, a recovering addict and recently married woman who moves back into her old family home with new husband (Johnny Lewis). The house is big and spacious, but it also has a past. While never fully spelling things out, it becomes clear that Molly's dead father was abusive towards her and her sister (Alexandra Holden). Not only that, but Molly's dad was into some seriously spooky, shifty stuff. One of the brilliant things about the script, by Sánchez and Jamie Nash, is that it never comes right out and tells us what was up with Molly's father. Yet his presence looms large, both over Molly and over the film.

While Molly's husband is off at his job driving long-haul trucks, Molly is left alone in the house, and her mental state begins to deteriorate. Is there something supernatural lurking in the dark shadows of the house? Or is this all the product of Molly's damaged psyche? Whatever is going on here, it's often terrifying, with Lodge throwing herself into what must have been a physically exhausting performance. Had Lovely Molly been a bigger movie seen by a wider audience, I can't help but think it would've launched Lodge into stardom. She's so damn good here, playing up Molly's fractured emotional state to the point where it's always believable. Supernatural goings-on or not, we fear for her.

Like Sánchez's Blair WitchLovely Molly is the type of horror movie that realizes it's what we can't see that's truly scary. But that's not to say all the horror happens off-screen. Sánchez stages several blood-curdling sequences that send Molly through hell. We watch as she interacts with someone – or something – just out of sight on a security camera. We shudder as she strips nude and sits in her childhood bedroom, staring straight into the darkness. And a recurring shot involving an open closet door, and something lurking just lurking out of frame, is bound to give you nightmares. If you're looking for the type of theme park thrill horror that a slasher movie can inspire, stay far the hell away from Lovely Molly. But if you're in search of the type of horror movie that will keep you up at night, have you jumping at shadows, and genuinely f*** with your mind, look no further than this underrated gem.