It’s been 22 days of horror movies and how am I doing this year? It’s maybe not as crazy as past years, but the movies are still giving me some pretty bad dreams. I talked about how over 20 days of horror movies is starting to get to me:
Over here I’m moving on to Australian Horror. Yesterday’s movie was The Loved Ones by Sean Byrne. And it was maybe not what I thought it was going to be…
Maybe minor spoilers here but I’ll try to avoid ruining too much. If you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know things, let me just say that I really enjoyed this movie. It’s stylish, sassy, and surprising. That’s a lot of S words. There’s just as much humor as there is gore, and there is a fair bit of both. I definitely recommend checking it out.
The Loved Ones, 2009. Dir & Written by Sean Byrne. Starring Xavier Samuel, Robin McLeavy, Victoria Thane.
The Loved Ones is the story of Brent, a depressed teenager suffering from guilt over the death of his father, who is kidnapped after turning down a date for the school dance with timid looking Lola Stone. It’s by turns funny, grotesque, violent, and sweet. And it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.
You can watch the trailers but basically what I was expecting was something along the lines of Carrie or May. A social outcast pushed too far who finally snaps, exacting a scheme of revenge that we can cheer for even while we’re horrified. I thought maybe that’s what Lola was, a bullied or ignored teenager who just wanted to her perfect prom and went about getting it in a very twisted way.
Yeah, no, I was wrong.
Lola is not some wronged wallflower. She’s freakin’ nuts. One review I read compared this movie to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Lola would be your Leatherface.
Honestly while this movie has a lot of things going for it, what really dragged me in was Robin McLeavy as Lola. She and Xavier Samuel (the troubled Brent) have a brilliant chemistry. This isn’t a romantic thing, it’s two disturbed kids fighting for what they want. Lola may have a clearer path at the beginning, but Brent figures himself out by the end.
Her performance though is just brilliant. Her bright girlish smiles contrasting with her wicked cackling, she’s pretty as a peach and mad as a hatter. Is it finger licking good? Is it? She’s a delight to watch.
The rest of the cast is a delight as well. Samuels as the earnest yet troubled Brent, Victoria Thane as his girlfriend Holly, Jessica McNamee and Richard Wilson as their friends. The side story of McNamee and Wilson felt a little odd and tacked on at first, but it comes together with the main plot nicely and in an unexpected way. A lot of what this movie does is unexpected. Or when it chooses to fulfull expectations, it does so in a very satisfying way.
While it is a movie about torture, its focus on character, relationships, and humor keep it from being just another torture porn flick. It is brutal and violent and sometimes hard to watch. But even this brutality takes a turn for humor and I think that’s what keeps it from being just another Hostel. Reminds me more of People Under The Stairs than Saw.
It really is a very, very dark comedy. I dug it.
It’s also just such a pretty movie. The style is all sparkly and shiny and just what any teenage girl would want her prom to be. It’s such a great contrast with the grisly things happening. Occasionally I think the movie does go overboard trying to be too stylish (a lot of the music transitions feel more like MTV music video than feature film) but for the most part everything works very well.
Very, very well.
I don’t really want to say too much more because I feel like I will be spoiling things for anyone reading. It’s not that there are huge surprises and twists and turns. It’s just that it was so much fun to watch everything play out, it’s one of those movies that’s even better when you don’t know what’s coming.
You can find this one on Netflix or for the buying on Amazon. Unfortunately it’s not streaming. But it’s totally worth tracking down.