New Thriller Releases: Mollywood (2019) - Reviewed

We are no strangers to the premise that religion inspires gratuitous and misguided violence and murder, based on the delusion of purpose. Especially so in the movies. There are countless thrillers and horror films similar to Mollywood, that touch on these psychological elements, but this one adds a bit of street.

Mollywood is the directorial debut of Morocco Vaughn, a cinematographer, and it shows. The visuals are captivating and technical details such as camera angles and set design work well with engaging lighting, which instantly gives the film a professional feel that draws you in. Written by Ken Hoyd, who also wrote and directed the short film 3825 Forgiveness (2015), Mollywood explores the moral conundrum of religious conviction in a traumatized mind seeking explanation and revenge for his own demons.

The main plot of Mollywood, which is an exclusive club for ravers, follows a serial killer who pretends to be a drug dealer in order to snare young people in so that he can deliver them from their errors. What he is not aware of is that a street-smart undercover detective is trailing him. The latter concept makes up the majority of the film, but unfortunately the film offers nothing new. It introduces itself in a first-person noir narration that almost works in a poetic way, but comes across as a bit forced.

Micah Fitzgerald, known for his work on Westworld (2016) and Fear the Walking Dead (2015) nails the character of the serial killer as some demented religious deviant who truly believes that he is meant to redeem young people from drug use and hedonistic habits by killing them and sending them to the Creator. The character manages to maintain a very sane fa├žade in order to fool his friends. Fitzgerald portrays the conflicting sides well.

The cast do their work well and the acting is believable, although the dialogue is a bit weak, even barring the obvious authentic feel of street-talk. Vinicius Machado plays Zach, the relentless cop on the trail of the serial killer. He boasts a plethora of short films and TV series appearances under his belt, but he seems somehow misplaced in this role. 

What makes Mollywood a bit tedious is the lack of pace and action throughout. Initial character establishment is minimal, mostly done through various scenarios that feel more like a hip-hop music video than genuine relationships. There are some unrealistic scenes that question the creative license of the writing, and the lack of original plot and sub-plots gives it a rather one-dimensional touch.

However, given the limited subject matter and confined world that the film is set in, there is not much more we can expect from a club, urban streets and the occasional violence perpetrated by the holy-rolling serial killer. It feels repetitive and the writing could have expanded much more by means of flashbacks or longer torture scenes to establish the true depth of the killer’s psyche, yet it chooses to mull about in senseless threats and conversations between the cop and his marks.

Mollywood is a well-produced, well-acted thriller with way too little action and not enough gore for a piece that presents a serial killer and his pursuit. The killer’s modus operandi is trying to impress upon the audience a message of caution and consideration, but of what, there is only loose speculation as the definitive point keeps eluding.

Mollywood is definitely not a memorable film and has no original material that will make you think, but as a mildly suspenseful thriller with more than decent production quality, it makes for a good watch after all.

--Tasha Danzig