‘The Loved Ones’ Review

7.5/10

Film Pulse Score

Release Date: June 1st, 2012
Director: Sean Byrne
MPAA Rating: R
Film Pulse Score: 7.5/10

On the surface, The Loved Ones may appear like just another teen horror flick involving a little bit of crazy, a little bit of sex, and a ton of violence.  While it does certainly have all those things, The Loved Ones takes every horror element, and pushes it to wonderfully disturbing new heights.  Completely over the top in every way, this film is both a top notch horror flick, and something you won’t soon forget.

The plot of the film is something that may seem familiar. We have Brent, the good-looking popular guy who turns down Lola, the outsider, for the prom. Unbeknownst to Brent, Lola is a psychopath and decides to kidnap Brent and create her own prom. Things quickly escalate and get bloody. And weird.

Filmed and released in Australia in 2009, The Loved Ones had a very difficult time getting distribution in the states, even though it was considered a darling of the festivals and was well received by fans and critics.  Fortunately, Paramount’s micro-budget label Insurge picked up the film and set it for a June 1st theatrical release.

The Loved Ones is not your typical horror movie.  Yes, it has all the horror movie tropes, and yet it excels in the areas most horror films falter. First time writer/director Sean Byrne was able to create something that drips with style, and has the substance to back it. With some very rich and disturbing imagery and interesting characters, this is a treat for genre fans.

The character of Brent (Xavier Samuel), who becomes hapless victim, is an atypical version of a horror protagonist. First, he’s a guy, something that is not usual for the slasher film, and second, he has a backstory.  In the early moments of the film, we get to know this character, and his difficult past.  We see the inner-turmoil he’s dealing with, and we are shown right off the bat, that he’s not a bad guy.  Normally, in these types of films (Misery comes to mind), the kidnap victim was a jerk, and may have deserved some type of punishment.  That wasn’t the case in this film, and because of that, the empathy one feels for Brent becomes greater.

Although Brent may be the main character of the film, as with most horror movies, the villain is always the most interesting part. Robin McLeavy plays Lola, a teenage girl who’s twisted and sadistic tendencies know no bounds. She’s pure evil and seems to have a penchant for power tools.  Think Kathy Bates from Misery meets Leatherface. McLeavy plays the part very well, and does an excellent job portraying a teenage psychopath.

While it wouldn’t necessarily be considered torture-porn, The Loved Ones is not for the faint of heart.  The levels of violence and bloodshed are through the roof, and there are multiple cringe-worthy moments. It only take a few minutes to get the blood to start flowing and once it does, better get a raincoat.

It doesn’t redefine the genre, and it’s rough around the edges, but The Loved Ones is still a shining example of how to make a good horror movie. It may have taken several years to get to the states but don’t let that dissuade you.  It’s crazy, it’s bizarre, and it’s a must see for genre fans.