Eduardo Sanchez redefined the horror movie genre back in the nineties with the release of The Blair Witch Project and this week he is back with his new movie Lovely Molly.
I caught up with the filmmaker to talk about the movie, the influence of The Exorcist and what lies ahead - beware there are some spoilers during the chat.
- Lovely Molly is about to be released into UK cinemas so can you tell me a little bit about the movie?
Lovely Molly is basically a love story gone bad. This young beautiful lady Molly moves into the house that she grew up in with her new husband and bad things start happening. And then really bad things start happening and it all falls apart for her.
A lot of bad things happened in that house when she was young and they all come back and start creeping up on her again. That is kind of the story and it is a tragic love story come bad.
- You have penned the movie as well as directed so where did you idea for the story come from as it doesn't go in the typical direction of an exorcism movie?
Yeah. I have always wanted to make an exorcism movie ever since I saw The Exorcism when I was way too young. I was always afraid of if it as there is something about going down that evil and dark hole that really scared me.
But my writing partner Jamie Nash came up with the idea of what if someone going through a possession and they video tape themselves?
So it was a really interesting concept but I didn’t want to do a found footage movie and I didn’t want to do something like The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity and so I kind of came up with the idea of mixing the two techniques of found footage and Molly video taping herself going to this dark place.
But I also wanted to have the flexibility of being able to cut away and show a normal movie where Molly is not video taping herself. Then it just started flowing out of me, it was a wired thing as it kind of possessed me really.
There was a plan to bring an exorcist into the movie at the end as I had come up with this character of this nun who had been ex-communicated from the Catholic Church because she was too outspoken an independent to be a nun and she had started doing these exorcisms.
So it was like a female exorcist and I was really looking forward to writing her and getting into her but I got to the end of the script and I was like ‘well I didn’t really have the exorcist scene in there’.
And it really surprised me that I didn’t go that way but it was just one of those things as sometimes you completely surprise yourself with the things you come up with at the end of the journey - even if it is completely different to what you first imagined.
- I was reading that you have wanted to make a movie like The Exorcist ever since you saw it so what is it about this movie, the tone, the subject matter that really interests you?
To me The Exorcist is a movie that if there is any example of film catching something other worldly on film then it is The Exorcist. There is something about that movie and it looks like no other movie and it has this haunting quality to it.
And then you read all of the stuff that happened on the set and to the people afterwards and it seems like they went to this really dark place, I don’t know if it Satan or what it is, but there some kind of weird energy accumulated itself around that set and I think that they captured it on film.
So to me it was such an intense movie that didn’t even feel like a movie to me it was a religious experience. It is a movie that really scares the crap out of me and I don’t like watching it, even the making of documentaries creep me out.
There is something that is really malevolent about that whole production that is fascinating but at the same times terrifies me.
- Gretchen Lodge takes on the role of Molly so what were you looking for in your leading lady when you were casting this role?
Based on the material I was looking for someone who was completely fearless. First of all Gretchen is beautiful and she has incredible acting chops - she is an incredible actress.
But there was something about her that made her seem older than her years, she is in her early twenties and she just seems like an older person. But I just trusted her and I trusted that she would be able to take Molly down the road that I knew was going to be very difficult for any actress.
It was a lot of talking to her, once I gave her the role, but I trusted her as she had a strength about here and a fearless quality that I knew was going to work in this movie.
It’s the first movie that I have done that has a graphic sex scene in it and I knew that in the movie she would have to be naked a lot.
I have heard from other filmmakers that if you have someone who you need to be nude in a movie once you have chosen them or narrowed it down to a few people have then disrobe in front of you - if they can’t do it in the audition space then they are not going to do it on the set in front of a bunch of people.
But I never had to do that with Gretchen plus I live near D.C. and she lives in New York so it was going to awkward to go to New York just to see her naked (laughs) and then drive back.
But I talked to her about it and I said ‘look this is normally what we do but I am not going to do it because I completely trust you’ and she never flinched from anything and, as you can see from the film, it was a very challenging role and she never flinched from anything that I asked her to do.
- Ideas of occult mythology run through the whole of the movie so what sort of research did you do into this area? Is it something that has always interested you?
Yeah it is something that has always interested. I have always been a big fan of that stuff for the same reason that I am a fan of The Exorcist I love to be creeped out.
The Occult stuff and the demonic worship has always fascinated me because it is so blatantly evil - if there is a god then worshiping demons is the most insulting thing that you could do to god.
So there is this really deep seeded taboo in my Catholic upbringing that this is wrong behaviour, I am not very religious now but I still feel that way.
So for me the demonic side of Molly, whether you want to believe it’s demonic possession or psychosis or drug use or a combination of the three, but to me there is something hennas about what the demon makes Molly do.
At the end of you find out that she killed the little girl, her husband and Pastor Bobby it’s like there are these things that build up to the most senseless crime that I could imagine and realistically convey.
So I have always been interested in how people justify these terrible acts whether it is demonic possession or Charles Manson or it’s psychosis or a combination and it has always really fascinated me how people can do such a terrible crime - it’s just such an unexplainable thing to me.
- In a movie such as this the house that you set it in is vitally important as it is a character itself so how did you find it?
Like a lot of things in the movie we really just lucked out on the house. We were looking around and we were about to settle on another house that just wouldn’t have been as good and it would have been a different kind of feel to the movie.
Someone from the town where we were filming asked a real estate agent to do a sweep and they found this house - it wasn’t vacant but we convinced the person living there to move out for a month. She was very cool and very open to us coming in.
And it really did help shape the movie as it was a house in the middle of 125 acres with nothing around, you had to drive about half a mile down this isolated wooded little road to get to the house, and not lights were visible from the house at night.
Gretchen actually spent a couple of nights out there by herself just to get into the character and into the mood of things. It was just one of those things as a filmmaker where you thank your lucky stars for the moment when we found the house and it all worked out.
- How have you found the response to the movie so far?
There are people who love the movie and people who don’t understand the movie and people who completely hate it or it just doesn’t work for them.
I think it’s kind of what I expected as it is not a movie for everybody. You have to go in with a certain mindset and I think that it is effective and it is creepy and scary but I think that it also challenges the audience.
It is the movie that I set out to make and while it has had a mixed reaction but people who are into unique horror movies really like - that is the audience that I made it for - but hopefully it will catch a spark here in the UK.
- Finally what's next for you?
Well I have just shot a Bigfoot movie called Exists, I wrapped about a month and a half ago, so we are editing that. And then I am trying to get another movie going this Fall so I am just trying to stay busy.
Lovely Molly is released in cinemas 29th June
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw