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Review: The Haunting of Molly Hartley

For those who find bloody noses and whispered voices bone-chilling, heeeeeeere’s The Haunting of Molly Hartley.

The Haunting of Molly Hartley
Photo: Freestyle Releasing

For those who find bloody noses and whispered voices bone-chilling, heeeeeeere’s The Haunting of Molly Hartley, the latest—and, perhaps, most thoroughly inept yet—PG-13 horror film to arrive in theaters sans pre-release critics screenings. Despite the suggestion of its title, Mickey Liddell’s affront to scary cinema has not a single goosebump-worthy moment, but more egregious and infuriating is that it barely even strives to unnerve, save for a scant few jolting loud noises and the insufferable hushed chit-chat that plagues teenager Molly (Haley Bennett) as she attempts to deal with the fact that her mother recently tried to stab her to death with a pair of scissors. Relocated to a new school, Molly is hit on by the local hunk (Chace Crawford), befriended by a Christian fundamentalist (Shanna Collins), and, at her concerned father’s (Jake Weber) behest, visits the school shrink (Nina Siemaszko), all while fretting that she’s going bonkers like her mommy dearest. She of course isn’t, since a prologue has already made clear that Molly’s issues are related to a larger filicide craze with spooky religious undertones. Nonetheless, Liddell wastes inordinate time on torpid teen-drama filler that seeks to generate tension from the mystery surrounding the identity of an oft-referenced “they” who want to do something ominous to Molly on her impending 18th birthday. Given how insipid and inert this dunderheaded riff on The Omen is, anticipation for something horrible to happen to Molly or her friends—or for something of modest interest to happen at all—certainly runs high. However, like a cruel bully (or, perhaps, just an incompetent hack), Liddell continually promises bibilical terror and then intentionally refuses to deliver even the slightest payoff, right through a colossally anticlimactic and speciously pessimistic dénouement whose incompetence is almost as pronounced as is its success at making Satan and his demonic minions seem tame.

Cast: Haley Bennett, Jake Weber, Chace Crawford, Shannon Marie Woodward, Shanna Collins, AnnaLynne McCord, Marin Hinkle, Nina Siemaszko Director: Mickey Liddell Screenwriter: John Travis, Rebecca Sonnenshine Distributor: Freestyle Releasing Running Time: 87 min Rating: PG-13 Year: 2008 Buy: Video

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