Welcome to Will Mom Like This? an exploration into the trials and tribulations of sharing your favorite scary movies with family. Sharing movies with loved ones is a beautiful thing. As beautiful as it is, I think we have all experienced moments so uncomfortable you wish the couch would swallow you whole. In this new monthly column, I’m going to try and help you avoid that as much as possible. My hope is that this will work as a sort of guide for you to know when you should excuse yourself to refill the popcorn bowl and avoid the wrath of a disgruntled or disgusted parent. Be warned, we will be discussing a lot of plot spoilers but only so we don’t spoil a perfectly good evening with your folks.
Picture me, leaning back in my chair, arms crossed behind my head and letting out a world weary sigh. Folks, today we’re talking about The Haunting of Molly Hartley (2008). We’re talking about this movie because I thought it would be fun to watch some teens get terrorized by a demon of sorts. Now I would love if anyone can correct me on this, but as far as I can tell, despite the title, no one is haunted and there is not a single ghost or spirit. There’s just people and…tumors… and Satan? Stay tuned.
I knew things were not going according to plan as soon as my mom loudly announced that she was bored, and the opening credits were still on screen. She did perk up when she saw Chace Crawford’s name, although that did devolve into an off topic conversation about Gossip Girl, only to be interrupted by a wholly unnecessary jump scare. And that’s just the thing about this movie. Now I could be projecting, but it really felt like the jump scares were non-stop, and we were very on edge. The number of times that we actually screamed out loud was seven (I decided to keep track after the first one) which couldn’t have been good news for my dad who was still working in his home office.
Here’s my thing with jump scares: I think they can be really fun sometimes. I love the kind of jump scare that freaks me out and then makes me laugh about how freaked out I got. These were not that. These were the kind of jump scares that make both my mother and I unreasonably angry. We saw red. Every time a crow squawked directly in front of the camera, or mail being delivered was accented by an incredibly aggressive musical sting, the next five minutes of the movie were lost to us. Given that this movie is under an hour and a half, those precious moments really came back to bite us because we were thoroughly confused by the plot of this movie by the end of it. My mom loves asking questions during movies like “who is that,” or “why are they doing that” and to both of our dismay, I couldn’t answer her a single time. I am once again reaching out to the Molly Hartley historians of the world, someone please tell us what this movie is about, we need help.
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Blood and Guts
Okay, I’m being a little dramatic, we kind of know what happens in this movie. The Haunting of Molly Hartley is a story about a teenage girl, Molly (Haley Bennett), who is starting at a new school after being stabbed in the chest by her mother. Maybe a weird choice to watch with your mom; I don’t want her getting any ideas. Her mom was sent to a mental health institution and now Molly gets nosebleeds whenever anyone talks about Jesus which is like…surprisingly, a lot. A good 80% of the gore in this movie comes from Molly’s nose bleeding. I’ve never seen a nose bleed so much, not necessarily in terms of how much blood comes out of her nose, but more in terms of the frequency with which her nose bleeds. My mom works with kids in elementary school (virtually at the moment) and nosebleeds proved to be a big trigger for her. “That’s not how you handle a nosebleed!” she screamed as the English teacher shoved a fist full of tissues at Molly. “That’s a biohazard!” She cried as a bible – which they were reading in an English class by the by – drizzled with blood was left out on the desk.
The other 20% of the gore comes from very frequent dream sequences/hallucinations/flashbacks of the night when Molly’s mother attacked her. A little light stabbing, nothing to write home about. My mom seemed sincerely more upset by the nosebleeds than the stabbing, so go figure.
While not necessarily gory, I would be remiss not to mention our absolute favorite scene of the movie in which Molly snaps a girl’s arm in half. Brief context, Molly goes to a party at Joseph’s (Chace Crawford) house because she thinks he’s cute, but his ex-girlfriend Suzie (AnnaLynne McCord) is being all jealous and she and Molly end up in a genuine fist fight. It’s so unhinged it’s like a scene right out of Glow. I’m being so serious when I say that Molly grabs Suzie’s arm with her bare hands and twists until it breaks. My mom and I were rocketed out of our seats we were cheering so enthusiastically. Nobody at that party cared about bones shattering more than my mom and I did. I wish the whole movie could’ve just been that.
Big Brain Time
As I’ve mentioned, we fully lost the plot on this movie pretty early on. I don’t think either one of us was prepared for the amount of brain power we’d be using to watch The Haunting of Molly Hartley. Nothing rocked our worlds quite like the series of scenes in which Molly undergoes brain surgery. Well, my mom argued that it wasn’t brain surgery, it was sinus surgery, and I hope this doesn’t become a trend of us finding something unimportant to argue about every time we watch a horror movie. I say that it’s close enough to brain surgery, she wasn’t buying it.
All that aside, the fact of the matter is this girl has surgery near her brain and is totally fine the next day. She has zero bruising or swelling, and she’s immediately back at school. We couldn’t believe it. My mom was once again furious. She has seen every doctor show on the planet so she would know what people in media are supposed to look like after someone goes digging around in their head, and this was not it. On top of that, the idea is that this tumor in her sinuses was causing her to hallucinate and leak blood out of her nose all the time, but as the audience, we know it’s the devil. Which brings us to the question that plagued my mom and I for the remainder of the movie: what are the odds that someone being tormented by Satan, also has a tumor that causes the same symptoms as…you know…Satan? We did not get past this.
Children Drinking Gin & Tonics
I have never laughed harder with my mother than the moment we saw two teenagers in The Haunting of Molly Hartley make a gin and tonic to sip at at a high school party. It was exhilarating. As soon as we saw them pick up a lime, we rioted. I was screaming “All high schoolers drink is cheap beer and vodka mixed with orange juice!” and my mom said “What do you mean?” and I said “Nevermind!” Keep in mind; this was the same party where Molly snaps a girl’s arm in half so my mom and I were actually having a great time with this ten minute stretch of the movie.
- A girl who skips nearly every day of school becomes Valedictorian
- Creepy dad
- Forced full immersion baptism
- Inconsistent lighting
But Did Mom Like It?
So, the time came to ask the question, did Mom like that? And once again folks, Mom did not like that. She had a lot of notes. I learned last month that she really wanted something that would shock and scare her, and I don’t think I’ve been this big of a disappointment to my mother since the day I told her I wanted to go to college for theatre. The thing is, it’s just not a very scary movie, which maybe is an upside for watching a movie with a parent! For that reason, I’m going to say 2/5 Moms would recommend. The Haunting of Molly Hartley definitely isn’t all bad! How could we forget the broken arm and the Chace Crawford of it all? It also feels worth mentioning that the ending of this movie is hilarious and the IMDb trivia page makes me laugh harder than most things, I highly recommend checking it out. However, my mom decidedly did not feel the same way. When asked for her final thoughts, she provided me with what was her mantra throughout the entire movie, “Bad,” “Stupid,” and “Ugh.” Well…at least she wasn’t too scared? I hope you’re ready for next month everybody, because if you can believe it, I think I’ve found a movie she’s going to like even less than this. Should be a hoot and a half!
Would you ever watch The Haunting of Molly Hartley with a parental figure? Do you think we’re too mean? What’s your favorite memory of watching uncomfortable movies with mom? Let us know what scary movie you have always wanted to watch with your parents over on Twitter, in the Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit. and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club. We’ll do our best to give you a heads up of everything you’ll want to avoid, but don’t blame us if they disown you!