The Haunting of Molly Hartley

The Haunting of Molly Hartley

2008, PG-13, 87 min. Directed by Mickey Liddell. Starring Haley Bennett, Chace Crawford, Shannon Marie Woodward, Jake Weber, Shanna Collins, Nina Siemaszko, Marin Hinkle.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Nov. 7, 2008

Evil is as evil does, which makes former Everwood producer Liddell and co-screenwriters John Travis and Rebecca Sonnenshine the Beelzebubs of the banal thanks to this frighteningly dull updating of The Omen and Rosemary's Baby for the Gossip Girl set. Seriously, given the possibilities for high school evils (mortal, venal, and pretty much any other kind you can think of), it's downright depressing how uninspired The Haunting of Molly Hartley turns out to be. (Check out Brick, Rian Johnson's teen-angst updating of the classic film noir genre, if you think witty recontextualizing is beyond the grasp of today's filmmakers.) A collection of low-grade shock cuts strung together with possession-film signifiers that were already creaky by the time Ovidio G. Assonitis' Exorcist knockoff Beyond the Door arrived in theatres 3½ decades ago does not a passable horror film make. Newcomer Bennett, looking like the mythical soul of the American teen (post-WB), is the titular teen who has more than her share of blemishes for a high school senior. Granted, they're not on her peaches-and-cream skin. They're more along the lines of family skeletons dangling in the ancestral closet. Her mom's been institutionalized after trying to eviscerate her daughter with a pair of sewing shears (and, as played by Hinkle, she's no Piper Laurie), her father (Weber, of the Dawn of the Dead remake) has removed her to an exclusive private school, and her new schoolyard BFF Alexis (Collins) is – good lord! – a born-again Christian. Then, too, there are all the creepy adults wandering around in various states of foreshadowing, including former West Wing-er Siemaszko as a guidance counselor nearly as creepy as Freaks and Geeks' hippified Mr. Rosso. The key to the horrors at hand appears to lie with Molly's fast-approaching 18th birthday, or so the thin, thinner, thinnest strand of storyline would have you believe. The real shocker is how hellishly yawn-inducing this utterly pointless and forgettable Haunting turns out to be. It's enough to make you scream.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Haley Bennett Films
Hillbilly Elegy
Redneck rehab drama is better intentioned but more tone-deaf than the book

Richard Whittaker, Nov. 20, 2020

The Devil All the Time
Evil in Ohio in this Southern Gothic drama

Sept. 18, 2020

More by Marc Savlov
The Marksman
Liam Neeson is the action man again in this border thriller

Jan. 15, 2021

Beautiful Something Left Behind
The hard path to healing when kids suffer a death in the family

Jan. 8, 2021


The Haunting of Molly Hartley, Mickey Liddell, Haley Bennett, Chace Crawford, Shannon Marie Woodward, Jake Weber, Shanna Collins, Nina Siemaszko, Marin Hinkle

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle