The Loved Ones
Dir. Sean Byrne (2009)
After turning down an invitation to a dance, a teen with a death wish finds out that some people don't take no for an answer. Will his unrequited suitor grant his wish?
CAUTION: THIS MOVIE'S SUBJECT & CONTENT IS EXTREMELY DISTURBING AND/OR BRUTAL. I HAVE CHOSEN NOT TO INCLUDE ANY PICTURES IN THIS REVIEW BECAUSE THEY MAY BE UPSETTING TO SOME READERS. MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.
The Loved Ones is a movie I've wanted to watch for a long time, but is almost impossible to find in my neck of the woods. I literally have never seen it in stores, not once. So, like all hard to find objects du jour, I took to eBay and found it immediately. I'm incredibly glad that I did, because this became an instant classic in disturbing cinema to me.
Director Sean Byrne manages to put together an incredibly creepy and disturbing film about a shy girl who invites an attached boy to prom. When he turns her down because he already has a date, she enlists the help of her maybe creepier father to kidnap the boy and throw a prom of her own, complete with power tools, bleach, and maybe a little incest to top it all off. The film was decently gruesome, and the acting, especially Robin McLeavy's character (Lola, the prom queen), was top-notch. She's pretty attractive, but I don't know that she'll ever be able to get a (willing) date again after this film. Xavier Samuel (Brent), the arguable star of the show otherwise known for parts in Fury (the Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf tank movie) and Twilight: Eclipse, is fantastic, though his actual dialogue is limited due to... well, you'll have to watch for that part.
The creepiest character, to me, is John Brumpton's "Daddy", an incestuous father who just can't say no to his little girl. As we delve deeper into the film and learn this isn't the first time these things have happened (not giving away much there, really), we see a dark and troubled relationship where this behavior has been passed down. In fact, "Bright Eyes," the mother in this scenario, very well might've experienced the same treatment Brent is undergoing through most of the film. Like father, like daughter I suppose. Brumpton really does kill this role, no pun intended, and his brilliant portrayal is terrifyingly believable. This is a family you most decidedly don't want to cross, and they make no attempts to hide it.
After viewing several nearly unwatchable movies as of late, this was a welcome return to form. I was delightfully disturbed, and left wondering if I'd do the same things for my daughter. I quickly decided that I would absolutely not, but it was nice to wonder for a while. The relationship between the father and his spoiled daddy's girl (ugh, the implications) is contrasted with the despair and ruination of the relationship between Brent and his mother, and the scene where Brent's torture is paired with his friend's bizarre first date with the girl of his dreams leaves us with a feeling that no one in this film is going to have a truly "happy" ending. The camerawork and editing was fantastic, with just enough gore to please, cutting away from the worst moments while still giving us a ticket to see something no one should have to. The score and sound editing lend to this nicely, building dramatic tension and a general sense of unease that never really ebbs away.
Ultimately, we are viewers of a man with a death wish learning that he doesn't actually want to die, and we are witnesses to the lengths that he will go to to remain alive. Contrast that with Lola's unrelenting story of desire and insanity, and we're left with a twisted treatise on the embodiments of life and death. The scenes are weaved beautifully together, and The Loved Ones comes together as a masterwork of terror. Could not be more pleased, it was everything I was looking for and more.
Who this movie is for: Modern horror fans, Gore lovers, People who peaked in high school
Bottom Line: The Loved Ones is awesome. I highly recommend checking it out if you can find it, and if you can't find it locally, buy it online like me. Excellent, haunting film, I haven't stopped thinking about it for days. Wonderful acting, an excellent score, and THE movie to watch on prom night.