Definitely, I was always fascinated by the whole idea of exorcisms and possession. I’ve always been afraid of pushing that envelope too far, and with this movie I kind of just let go and went headfirst into it, while at least trying to control my fear. I’ve always been fascinated by the occult, and voodoo, and Satanism, anything that has to do with supernatural power, especially of the evil kind.
To me, it’s just such an old kind of fear. I always knew that the Baphomet was going to be the bad guy in this movie. I always thought that a horse or goat-hoofed demon was going to be what Molly was seeing. I always knew that she was at least going to hear horse hooves. It wasn’t until later that I realized it would be really cool to show somekind of apparition, barely in the light, of the visual representation of what Molly has been seeing this whole time.
So I didn’t have to do too much research. I knew firsthand what all this was about, and I already had Baphomet singled out as the movie’s main bad guy. It was more about how could present him in a cool way that hasn’t been seen before. Well, at first, he, or it, wasn’t going to be seen at all.
The original version of the film didn’t have the demon being physically manifesting in any way, but then later on when we had a test screening for filmmakers in L.A., somebody was talking about how they really wanted to see something. We showed the symbol and had all these sounds that pointed towards some kind of demonic thing, but we never showed it. People were disappointed by that, so I was like, “You know, while it’s not what I originally planned, I wouldn’t be opposed to developing something, and if it’s done right, it could be a really cool addition.”
So we went and hired a company to digitally add the demon that she sees at the end of the movie when she walks outside. I’m glad that somebody came up with that idea. It adds a nice little creepy beat to the end of the movie, and it’s not something that jumps out at you. It’s subtle enough to leave you saying, “What the fuck was that? I know it was something fucked up, but I can’t really clearly see it.” And that was always the intention, to have this ghostly apparition that you knew wasn’t a human but you also couldn’t identify. You just know that it’s malevolent.
It’s a hell of an image, no question, and it’s one of those tricky shots that very easily could’ve not worked. If the demon looks corny in any way, it could ruin the entire movie.
Yeah, I’m glad you liked it. And you’re absolutely right, man. That was the fear going in, the question of, “What if it doesn’t work?” But at the same time, if it didn’t work we would’ve just kept it out of the movie. [Laughs.]
It’s also effective because that scene adds to the film’s ambiguity while still giving the audience something visually that feels like a satisfying payoff.
Yeah, and obviously the demon dissolves into the scene, so it’s definitely supernatural, but what’s interesting is that some people interpret it as, “We’re just seeing what Molly is seeing,” so there still is that. I like it that people take away different things from the film. I know that’s what frustrated a lot of people about Blair Witch, but, to me and Dan [Myrick, his Blair Witch co-director], that was one of our favorite things about that movie—at the end of the day, it didn’t give you all the answers.
There is something inherently creepier about not having all the answers. The reason why Bigfoot is still as popular as he ever was is because nobody has found the fucking Bigfoot skeleton—nobody has found definitive proof. The reason why there’s so much controversy about UFO’s is that there still isn’t any real proof about UFO’s. For certain kinds of movies, like Lovely Molly, I think it’s imperative that you don’t answer everything because then you’re not really dealing with reality. For the people that Blair Witch worked for, what made it so powerful was the idea that it felt like it was part of reality, and part of reality is that you don’t what the hell ghosts are—you don’t even know if they exist.
That’s what keeps me coming to these things, the idea that I need more proof. I need more evidence. I need to see this again, catch different things in a movie, and then make up my own mind. There’s a whole group of horror fans who really love those kinds of movies, and I think they’ll really dig Lovely Molly for those reasons.
The house in which the film takes place is another incredibly creepy aspect of Lovely Molly. How’d you find that house?
We completely lucked out. We didn’t realize how hard it is to find a house that looks like it could be abandoned but is also safe enough to film a movie in. A lot of these houses that we went to, man, you couldn’t do anything in them—they were totally falling apart. You’d have to spend $100,000 just to sure up the house. But just like a lot of the things that happened with this movie, and that happened with Blair Witch, there was a kind of a serendipity to everything.
We just got lucky, man. We were planning on shooting in Hagerstown, a town that’s a half-hour north of where I live in Maryland. We still hadn’t made up our minds, and we were kind of getting desperate. Somebody from Hagerstown found this realtor who took us to this house, and it was perfect. Not only was it perfect, but the person who lived there was cool with us completely moving into her house. We rented her a hotel room and she lived out of a hotel for that month we were there shooting.
More than half of the props and the furniture that you see in Lovely Molly were actually in that house already. It was kind of a production designer’s dream, where you could pick and choose from these almost set pieces that were already there. You didn’t have to buy much.
In the end, that house helped us make this film. People ask me, “Was it haunted?” And I don’t know if it was haunted or not, but it’s an old house. I didn’t really feel anything in the house, but a lot of other people did. It was built back in the 1800s, I think, so a lot of people died there, and there’s a lot of weird energy in that house.
Once you were in the house, did a lot of the occult mythology change to fit the setting?
Yeah, it definitely inspired us. A lot of the horse stuff, specifically, because there was always going to be this horse demon that plagued Molly. But we got to the house and Katie, the woman who lived there, told us that her mom was a world-class equestrian, so she had all of these photos of her and her mom jumping and doing all these things with horses, and the photos were kind of creepy, man.
We didn’t really have a place for them, but we knew we had to come up with something. It was really lucky for us that we found this house that had these really creepy horse photos, and the owner is willing to let us use them. It was kind of just one of those movies that grew out of the environment.