Been hearing a lot of buzz about the movie "The Loved Ones" so I had to check it out and I am sure glad I did. Horror movie fans are in for a treat when this gets released in North America later this year. "The Loved Ones" is one hell of a trip down insanity row and it hits all the right notes. This film had an International Premiere in 2009 at the Toronto International Film Festival where it won the Peoples Choice Award. It later opened in it's home country of Australia.
I am a huge horror movie fan and it takes a lot to get me feeling very uneasy while watching a movie and let me tell you this movie had me uneasy throughout the whole picture. I feel something is lost with the modern horror movie, especially the ones made in America. It's been a while where one came out and really made my skin crawl. A lot of people are saying this movie is like "Carrie" meets "Misery" and they are right. Once the male lead in the movie gets taken hostage be prepared for the unthinkable. I have to warn you before you sit down to enjoy this movie be prepared, it is definitely not for the faint of heart or the easily squeamish.
The story behind "The Loved Ones" is one of unrequited love and a look at to how it can lead to the worst in people. The movie opens with Brent and his father taking a car ride and chit chatting about life. While avoiding a half naked person in the middle of the road they crash into a tree and Brent's father dies. Brent's life as we see it is dark and broken now because he still hasn't gotten over the feeling he caused the crashed that killed his father. He has the love of his life Holly. She loves him dearly and he knows it but has a hard time returning that love because of things going on in his life. The girl at school Lola wants Brent to go to the prom with her but he turns her down because he's with Holly. This breaks her heart.
During time alone on a hillside things take a turn for the worst. Brent gets taken hostage and winds up back with Lola and his family. This isn't your ordinary family. This is somethign right out of Texas Chainsaw crazy. Living with her deranged father and lobotimized mother, Lola wants her prince all to herself and is looking for the right guy. Later on we find out that there has been many guys in Lola's life but no one has ever been good enough to be her prince.
What happens next is something right out of the darkest recesses of someones twisted mine. This is very much a torture horror movie and it doesn't pull any punches. The scenes that follow are intense, gory, sick and twisted. It's like you enetered this twisted nightmare and can't leave. There are scenes that make you want to turn away but in some strange way can't. A demented train wreck that you can't look away from.
Sean Byrne wrote and directed this movie and he did a masterful job. His use of the camera and filming speed really add to the tension in the later scenes. He did a great job of making believable characters and having actually care the characters you are suppose to care for and hate the ones you are supposed to hate. He gets great performances out of the whole cast and has the directing chops to make the most horrible scenes come to life on the screen. Some American horror movie directors should take some pointers on how this style of movie is done, and done well. I applaud you Sean Byrne for making a demented, gritty horror movie and not holding back.
Xavier Samuel(Riley from Twilight Eclipse) gives an exceptional performance of the troubled Brent. Later on in the movie Xavier needs to work of raw emoition and it shows. He makes you feel the darkness in his life as well as the pain and suffering he is going through, not only with what happened to his father but also with what is happening to him because of Lola. He has great talent and I hope to see him in bigger things later.
Victoria Thaine from "Wilfred" and "Rain Shadow" plays Brent's girlfriend Holly. Another stellar performance. Byrne really knows how to get his actors and actresses to give it their all and it really shows. Thaine has to draw on deep emotions to make you beleive that Holly is so tormented by the disappearence of Brent because she deep down truly loves him. She gives a great emotional performance and was one of the highlights of the movie. Another great actress to watch out for.
Next comes the show stealer, Robin McLeavy(Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter, Hell on Wheels) plays the psychotic Lola or as her father refers to as Princess. On the outside she looks like your normal school girl who just wants to take her crush to the prom, but deep down she is one deranged psychopath that will do whatever it takes to be with the man of her dreams. She gives one of teh creepiest performances I have seen in a long while. Just looking at her makes your skin start to crawl, because deep down you feel that something isn't right about this girl. Come to find out things are not only wrong with her but with her whole family. Her father helps bring these boys to torture to the home but also helps her torture them. They also live with her mother who they have lobotomized. This family has already bought the farm in crazy town and McLeavy's performance is the spotlight of this movie. She really got into the serial killer type role and played it to it's fullest. One minute she is happy princess lady, the next, I'm going to drill you in your head crazy lady. She will make you think twice in turning the nice girl at school down.
This film takes you on a rollercoast of strangeness and dementia. "Hostel" tried to get it right in the torture horror category but there was something about it that kind of let me down, probably because it was so hyped up. This film gets it right and should be seen by any fan of horror. When this is released on DVD later this year in North America do yourself a favor and rent it. This is one horror film that will slide under the radar, and I hope that it gets seen by the North American audiences because it is one hell of a horror film.
I give this film 4.5 stars out of 5. An almost perfect dark horror movie, but I have to knock off half a star for the girl fight at the end of the movie, just seemed a little contrived and out of place in the film. Definite watcher. Keep your eyes open for this one, you will be glad you did. Till next time my friends.