The Haunting of Molly Hartley

 
(i)

 

High school horror flick more dreary than spooky.
  • Review Date: October 31, 2008
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 86 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The lead character is unknowingly part of a Satanist plot to find a host body for the Devil. A supporting character speaks of her own relationship with Jesus Christ, and the lead character goes to her for salvation when the plans for her life become known to her. Some discussion of the nature of madness.

Violence

A man drives dangerously as part of a suicide attempt (with another passenger in the car); scuffling and fights; a girl's arm is sprained in a fight; a woman falls over a railing to her death, landing on a knife she was brandishing. An attempted murder by drowning. Multiple stabbings, with some blood -- including some self-inflicted wounds. A scary, mutilated ghoul is on screen for a split-second. Some hospital/surgical imagery.

Sex

Some kissing; cleavage is revealed; the lead character strips down to her bra while changing.

Language

Some harsh language, including multiple uses of "s--t," "hell," "damn," and one non-sexual use of "f--king."

Consumerism

Only one brand (Ford, on a car's hood) visible on screen.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A character is seen extinguishing a cigarette, but not smoking it; teens drink what is presumably alcohol at a party, despite being underage.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that teens may be drawn to this horror movie by co-star Chace Crawford, who's part of the cast of Gossip Girl. There's some violent, scary stuff, but it's also mostly bloodless (particularly when compared to movies like the Saw franchise) -- more blood is seen from the lead character's stress-induced nosebleeds than from any of the movie's stabbings, assaults, and murders. The film includes a lot of religious imagery and plot points -- characters read Paradise Lost and the Bible, the lead character is baptized in an effort to remove the diabolical influences she's experiencing, and more.

What's the story?

THE HAUNTING OF MOLLY HARTLEY revolves around the title teen, Molly (Haley Bennett), who's getting over some tough stuff -- her mother tried to kill her in a paranoid rage, claiming she had to "save" Molly -- while trying to find her feet in a new town, fit in at her new school, and make new friends. Unfortunately, she's troubled by visions, headaches, and whispers that only she can hear. Molly's dad (Jake Weber) assures her that things are going to be OK -- but what if they aren't? As her 18th birthday approaches, Molly learns that, when she was born, her parents pledged her to dark forces who would claim her when she turned 18. Molly struggles to discover whether that outlandish claim is even possible ... and what, if anything, she can do about it if so.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The Haunting of Molly Hartley is a modest horror-thriller; in fact, if anything, it's too modest, relying on music cues and cheap surprises instead of actual suspense. Bennett (last seen as a Britney-esque teen pop star in the comedy Music and Lyrics) is a charming, easy-to-watch lead actress, but she's not given much to work with here, stumbling from plot point to plot point with a dazed, slightly upset look on her face. In an age when TV shows like Reaper and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and (more explicit and violent) films like Teeth and The Faculty have wrung horror out of the classes, clashes, and cliques of high school, The Haunting of Molly Hartley feels curiously constrained, as if the filmmakers didn't have the brains, bravery, or budget to kick things up a notch.

Director Mickey Liddell does manage to work in a few moments of actual suspense: Is the nice, born-again girl (Shanna Collins) in Molly's classes really not so nice? Is the handsome smile of the school's cutest boy (Chace Crawford) hiding a secret? But the film's finale is so shabby -- and so sudden -- that the film ends not with a bang but a whimper. The Haunting of Molly Hartley isn't too violent, isn't too scary, and isn't too over-the-top; unfortunately, it isn't too memorable, either.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about some of the philosophical and belief-related points suggested by the film. What do you believe in? Do you have to believe the same things that movie and TV characters do in order to empathize with them? Why or why not? Families can also discuss the film's subplot, in which the lead character was pledged to Satan by her parents at birth in order to save her life. Do children have to pay for the mistakes their parents make?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 31, 2008
DVD release date:February 23, 2009
Cast:Chace Crawford, Haley Bennett, Jake Weber
Director:Mickey Liddell
Studio:ShowBiz Studios
Genre:Horror
Run time:86 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:strong thematic material, violence and terror, brief strong language and some teen drinking

This review of The Haunting of Molly Hartley was written by

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 11 years old January 11, 2009
 

Cool!

it was a really cool movie! I personally liked it!
Kid, 10 years old February 26, 2012
 

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Do not bother seeing this movie.The story line is dull.After watching this you will feel bad.I thought that molly looked like 28 instead of 17.Do not waste your time watching this.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 12 years old October 8, 2011
 

Ok

this movie is pretty good, but a little inappropriate for small kids. The ending is also rather sacreligious.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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