The Loved Ones-2009 1 hour 24 minutes (Australia)
At my horror gal-pal’s prompting, I watched The Loved Ones. She had originally seen it during Midnight Madness at the 2009 TIFF, noticed it was On Demand, and told me it was a must-see. When she also told me that people were walking out the the theatre during the screening, that sealed the deal for me.
To put it lightly, this is not your regular prom slasher flick.
Six months after Brent (Xavier Samuel) loses his father in a car accident, he becomes self-destructive, brooding and moody. This loss has also left his mother in a paranoid, drunk-numb state. As he struggles with normal, day-to-day life, Brent is asked to attend the year-end dance by Lola (Robin McLeavy), an odd and intense school mate. When she is rejected due to the fact that Brent is going with his girlfriend Holly, Lola gets Daddy to fix it. Brent is kidnapped, muted by some sort of injected blue fluid, ruthlessly tortured, and forced to be Lola’s date.
This is a twisted father-daughter tag team. There is a disturbing love between them and Lola’s mother, “Bright Eyes”, goes along for the ride. You see, she has not choice since she has been subdued. We learn how a bit further into the movie with the maniacal use of a drill and boiling kettle. Talk about creative neurosurgery!
As Brent torture continues, we see his best friend Jamie’s night unfold. He provides a weird comic relief as he prepares for his boozy, drug-filled date with the intense, black-clad Mia. My favourite Jamie scene shows his use of air freshener as cologne before he picks Mia up for the dance. The two opposite experiences provide an interesting parallel between Jamie’s best night ever and Brent’s worst nightmare.
Lola and her father have had other victims (one of them being Mia’s brother), and their fate is an unexpected and morbidly cruel twist. On first glance, this film is gory and graphic with pointless violence. To me, I can see there is an underlying theme of loss and what forces us to carry on. Brent and his mother seem ready to give up on life, but this madness forces them out of their funk to literally do or die.
I have two pet peeves with this film. One is the dog. Brent’s happy-go-lucky pooch is harmed during his kidnapping. Not cool!! Someone has to pay for the poor dog and I’m glad they eventually do. Number two is the local cop. When he gets a lead to check out Lola’s house, he peeks into her kitchen window and sees a scene of blood and madness. Why not call for back up? Like, immediately! This always drives me crazy. Don’t be a hero, man. Call for back up. Of course, it doesn’t end well for him…because he doesn’t call for back up!!! This is a great segue for an upcoming piece: Pixie’s Horror Movie Survival Guide. One of the tips will be, you got it, call for back up!
Anyway, The Loved Ones was definitely different and, aside from the creepy father/daughter relationship, right up my alley. Weird, gross, and twisted, but with a moral: When you think your life has hit rock bottom, well, you only fell on the rubble, ’cause here comes the Acme sized boulder!
Most Memorable Line: “You’re my first drilling.”
Favorite Scene: This time there are two winners. The first one is when Brent wakes up to his captors grinning and staring at him intently…and then the camera stops on Bright Eyes. WTF?!! The second is the King and Queen’s dance. Lola’s father sprinkles sparkles over her and Brent as they sway to and fro. Although I don’t know how well one dances with their feet impaled and stuck to the floor.