The Loved Ones – Review
June 15, 2012 3 Comments
The Loved Ones – Review
Review by FilmFellaHenry – 7.7/10
Brent’s (Xavier Samuel) seemingly happy high school life takes a turn for the worst when he turns down the affections of Lola (Robin McLeavy) in this Australian horror flick. Determined to have her perfect prom night, Lola takes Brent hostage, subjugating him to an evening of torture, torments and a few home truths. As the tag line states, ‘what Lola wants, Lola gets’.
Ok, so I’m a little late off the mark with one, considering the Oz release date of 2010. However, a US distribution deal seems to have taken a little longer to wrangle (limited theatrical release from 01/06/12), so I figured it would be worth a review. Plus, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to review a recent horror that I actually enjoyed for a change.
While The Loved Ones doesn’t break any boundaries or challenge conventions, it is nevertheless a solid, entertaining film. The familiar setup of a deranged obsessive kidnapping some innocent sucker initially seems trite; yet the use of victim who is more than just meat for the grinder encourages an empathy approaching that seen in the classic Misery. The resulting suspense over his fate and Lola’s gradually revealed grim legacy gives The Loved Ones a genuine tension that is bereft in many modern horrors.
Much of the film’s effectiveness stems from Robin McLeavy’s suitably wacked-out performance and her relationship with Brent. The hostage/captor gender role reversal works a treat: watching this brattish, sadistic and oddly attractive girl attempt to break down a victim who is tougher than he seems makes for a battle of wills where the outcome is genuinely unknown. Lola’s ever present psychotic father Daddy (John Brumpton) adds further discomfort to the film, in the form of incestuous undertones, an unsettling knowledge of torture and allusions to the origins of Lola’s mother Bright Eyes’ (Anne Scott-Pendlebury) permanent catatonic state.
It’s important to note that this isn’t an out and out torture flick. Sure there are several scenes of torture (some of which are satisfyingly inventive), but there are enough amusing moments, characterisation and the constant clever cutting to Brent’s friend Jamie’s uneventful storyline that raises The Loved Ones firmly out of the gore-porn category. Also worth a mention are the visuals: although nothing too fancy, I found The Loved Ones to be lit very well, exposing a bright colour palette with plenty of light and dark.
The Loved Ones is a concise contemporary horror flick with a twang of the traditional, dusted with absurdity and speckled with some good old ultraviolence. Be prepared to laugh, bite your nails and grimace while forcing yourself to keep watching: I know I did. A good, fun movie.