A Disappointing, Dreary, Doll Drama
“I feel fine,” Molly giggles, rocking back and forth on her bed. “I feel fine, I feel fine.” As her concerned family look on with a mix of surprise and concern, it’s a moment that pretty much sums up the experience you’re likely to have watching The Haunting Of Molly Bannister. Between the tired, cliched story and disappointingly bad acting, across to the abundance of scripted jump scares throughout, this 75 minute film squanders what early potential it has with a really poor horror flick.
Now it’s worth bearing in mind that I have not watched any of the previous films in this series, despite being aware of some of the previous titles Director MJ Dixon has helped bring to light. Whether you’ve seen those films or not, the story to The Haunting of Molly Bannister is pretty straight forward and begins with simple home footage of a young Molly opening a strange Christmas present holding the aforementioned doll inside. Settling on calling it Molly, we skip forward in time to learn Kenneth and Mary have broken up and things have only gotten worse when Kenneth finds Sherry dead in her house; Molly’s strange doll lurking in the shadows watching from the top of the landing.
From here, the film skips forward in time and follows a familiar recyclable pattern of building up a thin layer of suspense and throwing several jump scares into the fold. The lack of respite between these jump sequences and moments of horror is one of the biggest culprits for undoing the decent job done early on to pique your interest and by the halfway point of this, Molly Bannister becomes more mundane than moody. It’s such a shame too because dolls are incredibly creepy and when done correctly, can produce unnerving result. You also don’t really need to animate the doll all that much either – just ask Mulder and Scully who dealt with a murderous doll on The X-Files.
With any indie flick, it’s inevitable that the production design won’t be as polished as some of the big studios so some leeway can be given here. A lot of the film is shot through steady cams, with a few nice dutch angles early on and other long shots toward the end that at least show some level of technicality which is good. However, the heavy use of neon lights – including bright reds and greens – lose their effect halfway through the film and even worse, paint large shadows over the cast’s faces that make it difficult to discern their expressions when they talk.
Toward the end of the film, The Haunting of Molly Bannister takes a turn for the worst and after driving off a cliff 10 minutes in, that bus hits shark-infested waters and subsequently blows up. The tone changes completely to one of nonsensical as the closest we have to a protagonist, Dotty, starts swearing and throwing in cheesy one-liners while grappling with a small doll. There is a twist late on but it’s pretty orchestrated and obvious while the cherry on the cake comes from the final credit scene which I believe mirrors that seen at the end of the 2000 flick Urban Legends: Final Cut.
Overall then, The Haunting of Molly Bannister is not a very good horror film. Actually, it’s not a very good anything. It’s a film that plays the straight and narrow, continuing to churn out jump scares until a final twist arrives too late in the day to save what’s come before. It’s a shame too because the opening 10 minutes are actually really good and with some careful editing, including a slower opening and less jump scares, this could be a decent little Indie. Alas, that’s not the case and this haunting exorcises itself long before a good scare (or film) arrives.
Published: 02 June 2020 at 11:23pm on