DirectorColinda Bongers/Thijs Meuwese
Release Date(s)2017 (October 2, 2018)
Studio(s)Get Off The Road (Artsploitation Films)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: B
Post-apocalyptic movies are not just a genre, but practically their own industry in the world of film. We never seem to tire of stories of lone heroes making their way through barren landscapes, fighting impossible odds, and dealing with various friends and enemies along their journey to whatever goal is at the end. With the recent exception of Mad Max: Fury Road, these movies have been dominated by male protagonists. We can now add Molly to the list of exceptions.
The first few minutes of Molly are a study in economical storytelling. We see a beach, a flash of (nuclear?) light, and the next thing we know, the beach looks like it’s been abandoned for years as Molly (Julia Batelaan) is being pursued by several armed men. She fights them off with a surprising amount of skill for someone so young, at one point unleashing an unexplainable energy from her hands that kills all her attackers but one. The remaining survivor recognizes her as “the girl from the stories,” so it’s clear her reputation precedes her.
In this type of film, there has to be a megalomaniacal villain, and Molly is no different in this regard. Deacon (Joost Bolt) is the ringleader of a fight club where “supplicants” (people who are reduced to mindless killing machines by being drugged) fight to the death for the entertainment of visitors, who place bets not with money, but with ammunition. Deacon decides Molly would be a perfect addition to his operation, and sends his minions out into the wilderness to capture her. When this proves more difficult than originally thought, Deacon kidnaps a little girl (Emma de Paauw), whom Molly has befriended, using her as bait to draw Molly in, which leads to an ultimate showdown.
Molly is an inexpensive film ($310,000), and you can feel the story struggling to break free of the bonds of its budget. Regardless, the filmmakers do a good job with set design, transforming found objects into interesting-looking weapons, and creating environments that are believable without being fully explained. The fight choreography overall is very good, even though there are fights that go on so long it almost feels like they’re padding the movie’s runtime. The showstopper though, while owing a pretty significant debt to Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, is an ingeniously staged battle between Molly and the supplicants while she hangs upside down from the ceiling.
A word or two about Julia Batelaan’s performance as Molly: she’s the star for a reason. She hits all the right notes of scared, brave, vulnerable, resilient, courageous, and vengeful. The gritty, realistic depiction of the danger she’s in snaps into focus when she’s attacked while bathing and has to defend herself while mostly nude. In most action movies, men are the biggest threat. In Molly, however, her main nemeses are female, and they are no less lethal.
Molly was shot with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio using a Black Magic Production Camera 4K and has two audio mixes: English 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital. The 2.0 mix is actually surprisingly stronger and beefier than the 5.1. The subtitles are in English only. Apparently, when the directors were asked what lens filters they would like to use, the answer was “All of them.” Every color is exaggerated or changed in some way, and a lot of them run hot, leading to greens and reds, in particular, to almost being smeared on the screen. This is clearly a stylistic choice and not a case of bad authoring.
As far as extras go, there is a director’s commentary, but only one of the two directors participates, whereas the packaging erroneously says both are on it. It’s a decent commentary, without a lot of gaps. There is a 30-minute long Making of Molly featurette, which mostly consists of crew members mugging for the camera. There are also trailers for other Artsploitation Films.
While not a game-changer for the post-apocalyptic genre, Molly is a solid, low-budget movie with a good, strong female lead. I hope that Julia Batelaan is fortunate enough to find the wider audience she deserves as an actress. Molly shows she is the real deal.
- Jason Crane