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The Loved Ones (DVD)
Author Name: daisylee3
The Loved Ones (DVD)
Date: 08/11/11, updated on 08/11/11 (82 review reads)
Advantages: Flawless acting, great script, brilliant storyline
Disadvantages: Gory - scenes of torture may be disturbing for some people
I'm going to start off by saying this film is hugely underrated. In fact, pretty much all of my friends have never heard of it, and I don't think i've ever come across it in my local Blockbuster or HMV. I absolutely love this, and find it such a shame that it isn't a more well known, popular film - it honestly deserves all the hype and awards that less brilliant films get - I think this is one of the best horror films i've ever seen. I've not seen many Australian horror films so I was unsure at first of what to expect. The only other Australian horror movie i've seen is Wolf Creek, which I also thought was a brilliant film and I thought it'd be hard to exceed, but to be honest, The Loved Onces is ten times better.
I first came across this film after getting home from my boyfriends house one night when it was quite late. I stuck the telly on for some background noise while I made a drink and this film was actually just starting on Film4, which ironically enough is where I first saw Wolf Creek. I decided to sit and watch it simply to unwind a bit and relax, and I didn't think it would be up to much. The first few minutes was pretty boring.. predictable, but then BAM! The drama starts. We are introduced to the main character, Brent, who is driving in the car with his Dad in the passenger seat. It is obvious that the two have a reasonably good father-son relationship, and Brent looks like any other normal teenager. I really don't want to spoil what happens in these first few minutes, but as the first few minutes of this film are a hugely important part of what happens, I think it is a neccesity to say or else my review won't make much sense - and if you don't see the beginning of the film, then you will struggle to get the jist of what's going on and why Brent is how he is, both because of the mysterious bloodied character that appears in the road, and because of what happens to Brent.
After the little car crash incident, which I would like to add is quite subtle and isn't graphic in the slightest, the film starts moving at a rapid pace, we flash 6 months forward and Brent is now a depressed and somewhat isolated teenager in his last year of high school. He carries a razor blade around his neck which he uses to self harm, and puts himself into dangerous situations, such as rock climbing, in order to feel alive. He blames himself for his fathers death and due to this, has a noticeably troubled relationship with his Mum. The only person who he seems to have a connection with is his girlfriend, Holly. We are also introduced to Brent's friend, Jamie, who seems like a sort of toned down Australian version of Clark Duke (best known for his role of Lance Johnson in Sex Drive), and although his character and the side plot which revolves around him and a gothic girl called Mia seems irrelevant throughout the film, at the end it all makes sense. The side plot does also take the edge off of the goriness, you know? It allows the viewer to take a deep breath and absorb what they've just seen.
The Loved Ones starts off as dramatic, mysterious and rather gripping, but soon starts to become quite toned down and samey.. yet another depressed teenager preparing to go to a school dance. Then Brent is asked to go to the high school prom by Lola, a seemingly innocent, almost child-like and quiet girl, nothing struck me as odd. Brent lets her down gently, politely explaining that he is already going with his girlfriend Holly, and off he goes to meet her. Holly and Brent have sex in Holly's car, which is quite graphic and there's a bit of boobage, and we see via the car window that Lola has followed Brent and is watching them, which instantly adds a bit of creepiness to the character, and the look on her face suggests that she is not a happy bunny!
Holly gives Brent a lift home, and we realise the extent of his communication issues due to isolation/depression, and he's unable to reply to her "I love you" and instead gets out of the car awkwardly, and they arrange for Holly to pick him up later to go to the dance. Brent then goes to an isolated place (this is just about where things start to go wrong!) and faffs about a bit climbing a rock edge/nearly falling off, smoking, listening to his iPod, hugging his dog, lieing at the top of a cliff where no one can see him and then the drama kicks in again. Brent's dog gives him the warning signals but Brent is too busy absorbed in self pity with his iPod full blast to notice the faceless man (we are shown the mysterious figure from the shoulders downwards) with leather gloves on approaching him. An injection is shoved into his neck (which we later find out contains bleach!) and his dog stabbed, and he is carted off to the boot of mystery man's car.
The whole dog-stabbing part of the film isn't as bad as it sounds. It's done off camera, and we simply hear a yelp and realise what has happened a little later in the film. As mystery man drives off to where ever he is taking Brent, a bit of 'the hills have eyes' is thrown in, and we see him reverse the car back to a dead possum and pick it up, adding that sort of edginess and although the tension and fear is already building, I think it backs it up that the person who has Brent is slightly unhinged.. what sort of person picks up road kill? Brents mum becomes increasingly worried as the darkness arrives and decides to go looking for him, and heads to the spot where he was previously, which makes it clear that this is a regular place where Brent goes to self harm/isolate himself. With no sign from Brent, his mum heads home and is confronted with the stabbed dog, which really gets the panic running through both the audience and the mother and girlfriend charaters.
Then the fun begins. Brent, now known as the film's definate victim, wakes up in a house which is decorated just as a prom would be, with a banner, a crystal ball and various other decorations. Lola (daddy's little princess) is there, along with her dad, and Bright Eyes, who is presumably Lola's mum. Lola's in a bright pink prom dress which her 'Daddy' as she calls him bought for her, and she's wearing a party hat. It is obvious that the show now revolves around her, and her only, or else. Our lead character at this point is tied to a chair, dressed in a prom suit, unable to speak due to the earlier injection, and he has Lola throwing herself all over him while her over protective Daddy watches. I think it's quite sexualised to begin with. I couldn't help wonder if she was about to rape him, but then the really bad stuff starts happening and it's clear this isn't about sex. It's about pain, torture, control and revenge.
The torture scenes are pretty brutal. I cringed, I hid behind a cushion, I let out dissaproving "oohh god" noises, but I couldn't look away. The torture methods in this film are genius. The writer and director, Sean Byrne, has quite obviously got a very good imagination! There's some unlikely objects used in the torture scenes including a fork and salt, a drill (oh god, the drill!), a hammer, zombie-like creatures who live under the house and a cup. This once seemingly innocent girl transforms into an absolute merciless lunatic, and mixed with her little incestious crush on Daddy it really creates a nasty, horrible piece-of-work character who is easily hateable, and by the end of the film I really wanted her seriously hurt and/or dead - I usually watch horror films and see the killer as just a killer, there's no background information on the killer and no personality, but with this girl we see what a nasty piece of work she really is. Robin McLeavy, who plays her, is amazing. Her acting is flawless, she really has the ability to portray a phychopath with effortless talent. Her and John Brumpton (Daddy) are a horror movie match made in heaven.
The film has twists and turns throughout and ingenious torture methods including a drill and boiling water which results in the victim (not Brent) adopting a zombie-like state. How? I'm not telling. You have to watch it yourself! The acting in this is superb, I can not fault a single member of the cast's performance. At times Jamie (Brent's friend) is cheesy, over the top and somewhat cringe worthy to watch, but it's not the script, it's just the character, if that makes sense. I think the writer and director, Sean Byrne, wanted to create a clumsy, funny and relatable character but I really didn't take a shine to him, although the side plot is an important part of the story.
I found this film extremely fast-paced, entertaining, intense, gripping and I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. I know that the blood etc was fake, but considering there was no CGI used in this film it looks scarily realistic. The horrifying screams that come from Brent's mouth are enough to send shivers down my spine and Xavier Samuel, who plays him, does a brilliant job of portraying both a depressed teenager and a torture victim. The ending of the film was brilliant. Most of the questions I had went unexplained, but everything sort of fitted together. The way the film is shot is eerily beautiful, with a clear, crisp picture and the film looks amazing on a HD tv. If you're looking for a film that will keep you entertained and hooked to the screen then this is one for you, although if blood makes you queezy this is probably one to avoid!
The Loved Ones is currently available on DVD and Blu Ray. The DVD can be purchased from Amazon for £4.29 which I think is a reasonable price. The film has an 18 certificate and runs for 84 minutes.
Summary: Well worth a watch