The best horror films tap into our innermost fears, and by that standard, THE HAUNTING OF MOLLY HARTLEY puts forth a dynamite premise. After surviving a near-fatal stab wound inflicted by her religious-zealot mother, Molly (Haley Bennett, MUSIC & LYRICS) and her father attempt to make a fresh start in a new town. Unfortunately, on top of making new friends and studying calculus, poor Molly also has to contend with horrific nightmares, chronic nosebleeds, and mysterious voices. Has she inherited her mother's insanity, or are there more sinister forces at work' It turns out that Molly's parents made a deal with the devil when she was born, and they price that they paid was her immortal soul.
Faustian bargains are a tried and true motif of the horror genre. They tap into audience fears and offer up the guilty pleasure of dancing with the devil. While THE HAUNTING OF MOLLY HARTLEY dwells on gloom and doom, there are great moments when Molly explores her impending wicked side, flirting with the devilishly handsome Joseph Young (GOSSIP GIRL's Chace Crawford) and giving Suzie (90210's AnnaLynne McCord), the residential mean girl, some bone-breaking comeuppance. Director Mickey Lidell could've used a lighter tough with the film, but in an era when every other horror film is a remake, seeing somebody even attempt to try something original is a nice change of pace. It's equally refreshing to see a filmmaker rely on some good old-fashioned suspense to spook the audience, rather than succumbing to the overwrought torture scenarios that make up the bulk of modern-day horror movies.