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“THE EXORCISM OF MOLLY HARTLEY” (Blu-ray Review)

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That’s right, Molly Hartley, from the 2008 horror flick THE HAUNTING OF MOLLY HARTLEY, has returned. She has now graduated from haunting to possession, and just in case you were one of the few people wondering what the future had in store for the character, THE EXORCISM OF MOLLY HARTLEY is here to tell you.  

Recently released on Blu-ray and Digital HD, EXORCISM opens with Father Barrow, a priest played by Devon Sawa, performing an exorcism on a pregnant woman possessed by an evil spirit. The situation goes south and when Father Barrow is charged with murder, he is sent away to an institution named Clovesdale. The story then hops to Molly Hartley as she celebrates her 24th birthday, seemingly living in the lap of luxury. She’s surrounded by beautiful people, just became the youngest employee to become partner in her firm and has no problem at getting anything wants. Then, after one obligatory night of hedonism gone wrong, Molly is taken to Clovesdale as well; coincidence or act of God?

Molly’s arrival at Clovesdale begins to cause great concern among the staff and patients, including Dr. Laurie Hawthorne, the psychiatrist assigned to Molly’s case. Quickly, Hawthorne begins to notice that something isn’t kosher about Molly, turning to Father Barrow for help. Moments later, in an explicit homage to THE OMEN, the priest and the doctor realize that the devil may be at play here. Molly’s Satanic possession goes full force, and there’s only one thing the evil entity wants and that’s out.  Now, Hawthorne and Barrow must not only save Molly, but battle with Satan, his minions, and the forces that began it all.

EXORCISM felt like an in-title-only sequel, more like an entry in THE EXORCIST or OMEN franchise rather than a direct continuation of HAUNTING. Had they changed the title and the main character, perhaps EXORCISM would have been a much better film. And though EXORCISM isn’t on my top 50 movies to see this year, the film did have its moments.

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With Steven R. Monroe behind the camera, EXORCISM was consistent in the direction and had a decent flow throughout the story although there were moments when this writer just kept saying, “You can get through this.”  The cinematography was nicely done and helped move the story forward on a visual level, as the usage of color and lighting was well thought out and though the music seemed a bit too familiar, it helped keep the film from feeling like something other than an exorcism flick. I also thought that the numerous nods to THE EXORCIST, THE OMEN and even STIGMATA, were nicely handled, even if a film should be able to stand on its own without overdosing the audience with overused references.

Devon Sawa and Gina Holden played believable roles and their attempt at making a lackluster script worth watching was commendable. They seemed to work well together and it was the scenes in which they were in, both separate and together, that were the most interesting. However, Molly Hartley, now embodied by Sara Lind, was unlikable, boring, and never felt like the same Molly Hartley we’d previously been introduced to in HAUNTING. Linds’ performance felt forced and empty, even when she wasn’t actually speaking but only mouthing the words of Satan, which felt closer to the Linda Blair comedy REPOSSESSED.  

As far as the Blu-ray itself, the transfer from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment does the movie justice, with the vibrant use of color, the contrast in the lighting, and the dark overtone used in the film are nicely defined. Sadly, the Blu-ray’s special features are a letdown. “The Director Diaries” featurette wasn’t that bad, as it’s always great to see filmmakers working on their craft. Still, there could have been more substance there, including any indication as to why the sequel was made.

The next featurette was “Exorcism: Beyond One Truth,” a twenty-minute look into the religious and psychological occurrences of Satan and demonic possession. Cast and crew as well as religious leaders and psychologists give their views and insights on these often controversial subjects, and as interesting as this feature was, it would have been more interesting to look into religious cults or maybe even some real life interviews from exorcism survivors and the priests involved. Finally, “Clovesdale Institute: Classified Security Camera Footage” is merely 4 minutes of fake security camera clips that show a different angle of scenes featured in the movie, which is certainly more disappointing than deleted scenes or alternate footage.

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About the author
Adam Lee Price
Adam Lee Price has an intense love of horror films and has since being a child. This love of horror has led him to focus on a career in writing films for the next generation of genre fans. Adam has recently completed writing his first feature length horror screenplay entitled THE MASQUERADE. Now, he looks forward to the next chapter of his life working alongside great writers in the horror industry and at FANGORIA Magazine.
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