June 1, 2012
Xaiver Samuel as Brent
Robin McLeavy as Lola
Victoria Thaine as Holly
John Brumpton as Daddy
Jessica McNamee as Mia
The Loved Ones, much like other foreign horror movies in recent years, has traveled a long road to U.S. distribution. Having been shown at various festivals over the years and released theatrically and on DVD in other markets. The U.S. release seemed to be doomed to torrent sites and foreign region DVD imports ala All The Boys Love Mandy Lane and The Poughkeepsie Tapes, but thankfully Paramount stepped up and has obtained U.S. rights for the film. Making the delay in U.S. release of this Aussie hit all the more shocking is how kick ass the finished product is. While it doesn’t break any new boundaries in the plot department it pulls off all of the homage’s perfectly and adds its own little dashes of twisted-ness throughout.
Brent is in his senior year and trying to get over a car crash that killed his father a year earlier. With his mother still grieving Brent takes solace in what any high school boy would, weed, metal music, and his girl friend Holly. With prom quickly approaching things are starting to look up for Brent; that is until he turns down the advances of fellow student and outcast Lola. What Brent doesn’t realize is that Lola is bat shit crazy and along with her daddy they have been abducting local boys over the years trying to find a prince for Lola. Just so happens that this year’s candidate is Brent.
Once Brent is abducted and brought to Lola’s home that is when it hits the fan. Torture both mental and psychical is inflicted on our poor protagonist from the start and only gets worse as the film goes along. The torture scenes are some of the best put to film in terms of balancing psychological and physical torment. Lola and her Daddy bring to the screen a pair of psycho’s that will not soon be forgotten, all the while creating unease with just how close their relationship might be. What makes the scenes even more torturous is how they are intercut with scenes of Brent’s friends enjoying the prom and also his mom and Holly worrying about his well being. With each new infliction placed upon Brent you begin to wonder how much more he can endure and then the drill comes out and despite the brutality of the scene it presents some of the best dark comedy material in years. This scene will likely gain a spot on horror fan’s list of favorites.
The script and direction under Mr. Byrne is extremely solid and he definitely knows how to get the best performances out of his actors, who all are perfectly cast for their respective roles. Standing out above the rest though are Robin McLeavy as Lola and John Brumpton as Daddy with their performances truly bringing an extra dash of crazy to the proceedings. In the lead role Xaiver Samuel, as Brent pulls off the perfect portrayal of both tortured youth and determined survivor.
The Loved Ones definitely brings the crazy, morbid, and darkly comic in full force to viewers and is a definite must-see simply due to the flawless execution of all the facets of a horror film. There is not really a weak link to point to regarding the finished product. The only point that keeps this movie from being a classic is the “been there done that” feel that resonated throughout the movie. Sure there are subtle changes from the pure tried and true, and while not containing direct rip-offs from other movies it is hard not to notice similarities to other films throughout.
Regardless of the minor gripe, The Loved Ones is well worth the wait, living up to all of the hype surrounding it and putting another notch in the belt for foreign horror releases.