Starring Julia Batelaan, Emma de Paauw, Joost Bolt, Annelies Appelhof. Directed by Colinda Bongers & Thijs Meuwese. (2017/91 min).
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Review by Tiger the Terrible😸
I'll give Molly this much: As post-apocalyptic heroines go, the movie's titular character is unique. She's not another busty killing machine decked-out in low-cut, skin-tight fighting gear and toting a cache of sexy weapons.
Instead, Molly (Julia Batelaan) is the kind of Plain Jane who walks the high school halls all four years without turning a single head. She's dressed in filthy rags, wears thick glasses and keeps what she scavenges from corpses in an old back-pack. Her only physical weapons are a gun with three bullets, a few knives and a homemade bow & arrow. While she's more than capable of handling herself in a fight - even against multiple attackers - Molly often takes as much of a beating as she gives and her injuries linger throughout the movie. Though quite resourceful, she roams this wasteland as wary and vulnerable as you and I would be in the same situation.
Molly is also sort-of a legend in these parts, possessing a telekinetic "power" that appears to serve as a shield against immediate threats to her life. We often see flashbacks of Molly strapped to a gurney in a dark lab - presumably before the apocalypse - while undergoing harrowing experiments. Her actual ability is never clearly defined, but it's assumed she was altered to be used as a weapon.
While the story doesn't explicitly reveal the cause of this global cataclysm, it's implied most the world succumbed to a virus that turns those infected into violent homicidal maniacs. Sadistic carnival barker Deacon wants to infect Molly in order to win death matches he holds on a ramshackle atoll, where survivors regularly wager ammo on the combatants. While the atoll is definitely an imaginative piece of set-design on a budget, the underwhelming arena where the zombies fight looks like someone tried to build Thunderdome in their garage.
Speaking of which, Molly draws obvious inspiration from the Mad Max series, Beyond Thunderdome in particular (including our hero ultimately laying it all on the line for a child). However, the film compensates for its lack of narrative originality with an engaging protagonist, an aesthetically-interesting look and some truly jaw-dropping fight choreography. The villains are generic and Bolt's hammy performance is obnoxious, but Batelaan delivers a terrific physical and emotional performance. Additionally, Molly has a unique, strangely surreal visual quality that feels almost dreamlike.
As for the action, these fight sequences must be seen to be believed. Not overtly kinetic or flashy, they are impressive nonetheless. Grueling and brutal without being particularly graphic, the fights are presented in long takes, unlike hyperactive editing that tends to detach the viewer from the action. In fact, the exhausting final conflict is presented as an unbroken 30-minute shot. One could argue the sequence is a distracting gimmick, but it's still cool as hell and must have been a logistical nightmare to pull-off for everyone involved.
Anyone who appreciates a good onscreen fight will probably enjoy Molly for the final act alone. Elsewhere, the film overcomes most of its story shortcomings by being visually engaging, as well as taking the time and effort to give us a main character who's truly unique to the genre. Well made on a low budget, this is an apocalyptic obscurity worth seeking out.
FEATURETTE - "Making of Molly"
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By directors Colinda Bongers & Thijs Meuwese
PURR-R-R...LIKE A GOOD SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS