Reviewed By Ross Hughes
Echo’s of David Lynch makes The Loved Ones probably one of the years most underrated horror films……..
This is why I love horror. One of the reasons that I weep with despair is that the only thing Hollywood is concerned about is remake after remake of old classics, films of an unknown nature are being released straight to DVD, and when I discover them, those tears turn from sadness to overwhelming joy. This year, Dread, House Of The Devil, The Objective, The Torment, and Exhibit A have all came out with no fanfare and have blown me away, its going to be quite a shocker when I do my annual best horror films of the year and most of them will be titles that most fans who watch more mainstream films, will wonder what I am going on about!
Joining the list of best horror films of the year is this delightful joy, The Loved Ones, a demented Australian horror that crosses Misery with Saw, but also manages to create its own unique identity. This film has been wowing fans in festivals for the past year, winning numerous awards, yet gets released on DVD with no publicity and with most top high streets shops not stocking it. Even Blockbusters have failed to add it to the weekly rental, even though they are quite happy to have yet another Danny Dyer title on the shelves.
The Loved Ones has a barnstorming performance by Robin McLeavy to thank for moving the film up a level. All horrors need a great character, and her Lola is probably for me, the best of the year, a truly terrific monster that wants you to beg for more long after the credits roll. Amazingly, she goes unnoticed for the first half. The film sort of starts all Disturbia, when a father and son, talking in a car gets involved in a car crash in which the dad dies and the son lives. Six months later and Brent (Xavier Samuel) is a wreck. His mother does not trust him to drive, and he blames himself for the death of his father. The only sole comfort he has is that of his girlfriend who in a clumsy sex scene, declares his love and promises her he will take her to the prom. Another argument with his mother sends him for a walk to clear his head where he climbs a huge wall in what seems a suicidal attempt. This confused man has a death wish, but when he slips, panic engulfs him and while he survives, it, a smile appears and it suggests to the viewer it is at this moment that he finally embraces life. Too late though has he is soon knocked over the head and taken to a remote house where he notices Lola looking down at him. Lola we saw for five minutes at the beginning of the film, asking him to the prom which he kindly turned her down, but it seems what Lola wants, daddy gets, and after a slow start, the film turns its full screw into dark humour/horror, that will delight all fans!
Brent is drugged and tied to a chair in which he has to watch as the house is turned into the school prom, Lola tries on her dress in which her father watches her undress, probably suggesting an incest relationship, and soon the cake and drink is in full flow. Its here that echo’s of David Lynch shine through. A quite surreal set up in which Brent is at the prom, but not with the girl he wants, and if you wondering where the horror comes from, its here, and there are a real delight!
While the family unit of Lola brings comparisons to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre gang, the film really brings the Misery element to proceedings, especially when Brent tries to escape. Believe me, if you think the moment with James Cann and that hammer from Kathy Bates was bad, then a scene here surpasses that. Its here that the horror is a real look away moment, and a use of a drill is so outlandish and frightening, you wish that you were watching Marathon Man.
Loved Ones does not just go down the route of torture porn though. There is a real strength of character from all involved and there is a real surprising subplot from a locked cellar that brings a heck of a surprise to all those watching.
McLeavy is simply fantastic though. Seriously! She at first comes across all nice, but as the film goes on, her character is a real demented freak. A stunning bogyman that deserves all the acclaim that it gets. A real spoilt brat who takes what she wants and requires to a whole new level, and her despair to an event in what happens later on, will have you fearful to anyone who stands in her way.
Its wonderfully directed by Sean Bryne who creates spells of downright horror, even the use of music is worked to great effect and I can not recommend this film highly enough. It has the right balance of horror and humour, and knocks the spots off any Hollywood release, a totally missed gem!
OVERALL: The greatest Prom horror since Carrie! A stunning Australian horror that will delight all fans of genre, that mixes Misery with shades of Lynch, totally demented and wonderfully entertaining……
[pt-filmtitle]The Loved Ones[/pt-filmtitle]