I dabbled with a little Aussie horror last night with Lake Mungo and it reminded me of another film from the land down under that I have been meaning to watch – The Loved Ones. This is one I went into with almost zero knowledge, which, as I have found is often the best way to watch a film. And let me tell you, The Loved Ones took me by surprise in a big way. I kept thinking to myself, “What the f*ck is this movie? How did I not know about it!?”
The film starts out with some melodramatic cliché plot device about Brent, a kid who has a bunch of guilt over the accidental death of his Pops. Brent now hangs out and cuts himself while listening to Linkin Park and pretending to be complicated. I thought I was going to hate him and the whole film at this point. Can you blame me?
But like a Phoenix rising out of the ash, the filmmakers salvage Brent by showing us the other side to him and adding layers of depth to his character. Demonstrated through time spent with his hottie girlfriend, Mom, best friend and dog. Brent is an alright guy, though he did turn down a seemingly innocent request to go to the dance from Lola Brumpton. Turns out this was not a good move.
Not a lot makes me squirm (most recently a scene in Splinter accomplished the feat). The Loved Ones had me squirming on several occasions. Lola and her deranged father decide it would be best if the school dance came to their house for the night. Along with her date, Brent. Of course, Lola’s idea of a good time isn’t punch and bad ‘80s songs covered by a terrible band in the high school gym. No, her fun involves power drills, knives, syringes full of paralyzing solutions, and a host of other items necessary for any good torture porn movie.
Now, torture porn is my least favorite in the horror genre, but the beauty of The Loved Ones is at no point does it seem like overkill. The torture was used in a way that convincingly moved the script forward. Bravo to Writer/director Sean Bryne. I am excited to see what he brings to the table next.
As the film progresses, Brent is thrown into more and more trying situations. Meanwhile, his best friend is off on hooking it up with the date of his life. The back and forth of what is happening to each friend highlights in stark contrast how each other’s nights are going. It’s another brilliant directorial move and provides the viewer a few much needed chances to catch their breath. The movie is really that tense at times. It’s unrelenting, brutal, and almost too real.
All of the performances are outstanding, especially Robin McLeavy’s in the role of the demented Lola. She’s comes across as one of the most f*cked up characters in recent memory. I think this movie has a good chance at becoming a cult favorite. I would love to see women dressed up as Lola for Halloween.
Simply put: This is one of the top ten films I have seen this year.
Snore Factor: Z (It’ll keep you up all night)