The Haunting of Molly Hartley

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Starring Haley Bennett and Chace Crawford. Rated PG.

It’s kinda hard to have a haunting without a ghost, but that tidbit of common knowledge never dawned on the makers of The Haunting of Molly Hartley. They used the title anyway for this contemptible cross between To The Devil a Daughter and a dark version of High School Musical (without the music).

Haley Bennett from Music and Lyrics plays Molly, a new student at a prep school teeming with stereotypes like the ultra-cute and popular jock (Zac Efron look-alike Chace Crawford of TV’s Gossip Girl) and the jealous, Sharpay-like meanie (90210’s AnnaLynne McCord). Molly is torn between friendships with a Bible-thumping outcast who wants to save her and a rebellious troublemaker who wants to party all the time.

Because her psychotic mom once stabbed her with scissors—and she has the nasty scar on her chest to prove it—Molly is prone to nightmares about her mom stabbing her with scissors. She already gets scared enough in broad daylight by alarm clocks, mail deliveries, and boys in the school library. Producer-turned-director Mickey Liddell’s feeble efforts to shock are limited to cranking up the volume on the sound effects.

During the tedious run up to Molly’s 18th birthday—when some vague satanic happening is set to occur—we see her in predictable conflicts with her overprotective dad (Dawn of the Dead’s Jake Weber), but mostly just hanging out at school, drawing suspicious glances and whispered remarks in the classroom, hallway, and cafeteria. All this tepid non-action is accompanied by one of the most banal tween-rock soundtracks you’ve ever had to suffer through.

A failure on all counts, The Haunting of Molly Hartley offers nothing besides the opportunity to ogle sweet young things in schoolgirl uniforms. But even that doesn’t make it watchable.

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