The Haunting of Molly Hartley is a 2008 American supernatural horror film written by John Travis and Rebecca Sonnenshine and directed by Mickey Liddell. The film, starring Haley Bennett, Chace Crawford, AnnaLynne McCord, and Jake Weber, was a critical failure but a mild commercial success.
The film begins with a teenage girl, Laurel Miller, going into the woods to meet her boyfriend. He gives her an early birthday present, but her father shows up and demands that she leave with him. As they drive home she tells him that she will be marrying her boyfriend as soon as she turns eighteen. He breaks down and apologizes to her before crashing their car. Seeing that she is not dead, he kills her with a broken piece of mirror, saying he couldn't let the darkness take her.
The film then switches to present day where 17-year-old Molly Hartley is stabbed in the chest by her deranged mother Jane with a pair scissors one day after school. Although she survives and her wound is healed with only a scar remaining, she is still haunted in her dreams and hears things because of the frightening experience. Molly lives with her father Robert and her mother is locked up in a mental ward outside the town she recently moved to. Her father enrolls Molly in a new school to help with the trauma and start a new life. However, as her eighteenth birthday approaches, Molly must deal with both the stress of being a new student and with the continuing nightmares she has of her mother's attack. Joseph Young, one of Molly's classmates, attempts to help her; however, Molly begins to display symptoms of the same psychosis that took control of her mother's life.
One night, her mother escapes and tries to kidnap her, but Molly escapes. The next morning she is cornered by Jane and discovers that she, and others who share her mother's concerns, want to kill her in order to save her from a preordained life as a servant to Satan. It is revealed that Molly had died as the result of a miscarriage and her parents made a pact with the Devil disguised as a woman to save her life. The terms of the agreement were such that the Hartleys would only have Molly until her eighteenth birthday, then she would belong to the Devil. After Jane is accidentally killed by falling down to the floor and upon knocking her father out, Molly turns to Joseph for help discovering that he is one of them and has set her up by taking her to his house. Dr. Emerson arrives at Joseph's house and tells Molly that she is also to be a servant of the devil. She says Molly can either kill her father to break the pact, or submit to the devil. She attempts to let her father live and not join the devil by stabbing herself in the chest with a kitchen knife in an effort to commit suicide. This attempt is in vain because the clock has already struck midnight.
The film switches to a mental institution, where a doctor is talking to a woman dressed in black, later revealed to be a cold-hearted Molly. It is revealed that Molly's father has now been admitted to the institution; Molly casually smiles and says she will not speak to him, instead choosing to move on. Molly becomes valedictorian of her high school, and dates Joseph. She is seen leaving her high school graduation with Joseph in a limousine, after being told by Dr. Emerson (disguised as the school guidance counselor) that they'll "see her soon."
The film was widely panned and currently holds a 28/100 rating on Metacritic, based on 10 reviews and a 3% "Rotten" score on Rotten Tomatoes, with the site's critical consensus being "The Haunting of Molly Hartley is a rather lifeless horror endeavor, with a pedestrian plot and few scares." Its best review came from the Toronto Star which said "If you get past the retro Nancy Drew title, this is a worthwhile effort." The LA Weekly wrote "From Freestyle Releasing, the self-service distributor that brought you D-War and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, comes a movie even worse than those two combined."
Originally independently released by Freestyle Releasing, all ancillary rights reverted to 20th Century Fox upon its DVD release on February 24, 2009 via Fox's home video division, since Fox holds rights to release Freestyle films on DVD. The film was released in Mexico on June 4, 2010 via Quality Films. The UK DVD was released on June 14, 2010.
Although a formal soundtrack was never released, the following songs were used in the film:
- "Preparedness" by The Bird and the Bee
- "I Don't Wanna" by Anna Waronker
- "Rain" by Bishop Allen
- "Post Man" by The Sammies
- "17" by X-Press 2
- "Falling Out" by The Sammies
- "U A Freak (Nasty Girl)" by Chingy
- "Mad Scientist" by Madison
- "Untouched and Intact" by The Honorary Title
- "Overwhelmed" by Karen DeBerg
A sequel, The Exorcism of Molly Hartley, is set for a direct-to-DVD release in 2015. The film, directed by Steven R. Monroe, stars Sarah Lind as Molly with a supporting cast of Devon Sawa, Gina Holden, and Jon Cor.
- Official website
- The Haunting of Molly Hartley at the Internet Movie Database
- The Haunting of Molly Hartley at Box Office Mojo
- The Haunting of Molly Hartley at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Haunting of Molly Hartley at Metacritic