Recycling is a wonderful process. It’s good for our health, good for our air, and good for our planet… it literally makes the world a better place. While making a movie, however, recycling is seldom a good thing. Sure, throughout history there have been films to recycle material in a way that pays homage to the great films that came before, but, there are also times in which the recycling comes across as “ripping off” better movies. Unfortunately, The Exorcism of Molly Hartley falls into the latter category.
The Exorcism of Molly Hartley was directed by Steven R. Monroe from a script by Matt Venne, and it serves as a sequel to 2008’s The Haunting of Molly Hartley. Released straight to DVD by 20th Century Fox, The Exorcism of Molly Hartley finds Molly (now played by Sarah Lind rather than Haley Bennett) being possessed by an evil spirit six years after the events of the first film. The only hope for Molly’s salvation lies within a fallen priest (Devon Sawa, Idle Hands and Final Destination), who must face his own demons in order to save Molly from hers. I’m going to get the positives out of the way early. Devon Sawa isn’t awfully bad in the film. He seems very much out of place during the exorcism scenes, but he’s mostly fine throughout. Also, I was never bored with this movie. The greatest compliment I can give this film is that it was passably entertaining… but that’s really only because it’s hilariously bad, so it’s not really a compliment at all, is it?
I laughed throughout The Exorcism of Molly Hartley more often than I’ve laughed during any film this year. There is one scene in particular with about eleven minutes left in the run time that was so funny that I had to rewind the film three times to fully bask in its glory. If Molly Hartley were a straightforward comedy, or even a horror-comedy, I could recommend it based on that merit. Molly Hartley is neither of those things, however, so I cannot in good conscience tell you to watch the film.
What Molly Hartley is, though, is a blatant ripoff of pretty much every possession movie ever made. There are several scenes taken straight from The Exorcist (green vomit, possessed girl floating above the bed, receiving a message through the possessed girl’s skin, the exorcism scenes in general), at least one scene that seemed taken right out of The Omen, and even the unnecessary twist at the end was oddly similar to the twist in The Last Exorcism. There wasn’t an original idea in the entire film, and since the “borrowed” material was so poorly executed that it couldn’t produce one single effective scare, it’s a damn problem.
It would also be remiss of me not to include that the dialogue is laughable as well. There is one particular scene in which Father Barrow (Devon Sawa) informs another priest that he cannot perform an exorcism since he is no longer an active priest, and the priest wisely replies, “You don’t have to be in the NBA to play basketball.” Seldom has advice been so effective. I half expected Father Barrow to lace up his sneakers and follow his long forgotten dreams of being a superstar athlete, but unfortunately, that never happened.
The Exorcism of Molly Hartley was entertaining for all the wrong reasons, and unless you’re a fan of bad movies, I cannot recommend you watch this film. The performances and dialogue are mostly laughable, and the entire plot is a rehash of films much greater than this one. Recycling is a wonderful process, but in the case of The Exorcism of Molly Hartley, it’s best just to leave it in the trash.