Last year’s rocking doc Not Quite Hollywood proved that Australian genre films love to break the rules. In director and screenwriter Sean Byrne’s first feature, The Loved Ones, he smashes them to a bloody pulp with a hammer.
In order to avoid a ghostly figure in the road, high-school senior Brent Mitchell (Xavier Samuel) wraps his car around a tree, killing his father. Constantly confronted by his mother’s emotional collapse after the accident, Brent escapes into a marijuana-fuelled world of loud metal music to block the pain and guilt. Dejected and out of sorts, he has a shot at happiness with his girlfriend Holly, a grounded, caring girl with drop-dead good looks – a dream date for the high-school prom. But his plans are thwarted by a disturbing series of events that take place under a mirrored disco ball, involving pink satin, glitter, syringes, nails, power drills and a secret admirer. Brent has become the prom king at a macabre, sadistic event where he is the entertainment.
Though new to the feature director’s chair, Byrne cut his teeth in shorts, honing his instincts for dark, intense subject matter. With The Loved Ones, Byrne encourages the audience to laugh and have fun, only to sneak up and jolt them with horror when they’re least expecting it. When an image of a bloodied teenager in a tux on a balloon-littered floor came to Byrne, he sought to bring to the screen a fusion of two horror classics – The Evil Dead and Carrie. The Loved Ones mashes up sharp, swift drama with a series of bloody, imaginatively gruesome yet humorous thrills that are bound to provoke reactions from more squeamish audience members, who will surely have their hands over their eyes and grins on their faces.
Destined to become a scary and deliciously deranged date movie, The Loved Ones isn’t just another horror flick. It’s a vivid, fun, sexy and relentlessly attacking roller coaster, set to a searing rock soundtrack with grooves to scream to. —tiff.net
Some great camera and acting moments, but this movie was barely passable, even by today's horror standards. It has way more in relation to SAW and THE PPL UNDER THE STAIRS than CARRIE and EVIL DEAD. The two leads are great, but the whole best friend and his heavy metal date side story was completely pointless and stupid, and the movie jumps from quite plausible to frustratingly outrageous for much of it's final half.
Robin Mcleavy is a force to be reckoned with in this horror film, channeling Kathy Bates Misery style, I just couldn't keep my eyes off of her. The Loved Ones had me sitting upright the whole way through, it's a thrill ride indeed. Yeah, it wears its influences on it's bloody sleeves but I think what Sean Byrne does here is that he amps it up a million times more. Some great genuine moments to be watched in this film and also, that score is awesome.
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