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
I'm really dissapointed. Everyone has been saying that this movie was amazing but I just can describe it as a "bloody mess". Not scary, suspenseful or sensitive. In the end, I found it really pointless and senseless. Plus, it was full with plain characters - having, however, to highlight Brent and Lola.
I'm flummoxed as to why Loved Ones has been getting so much good press. It isn't funny, scary, suspenseful, cinematic, or even particularly ugly. Very uninspired, with a cast of histrionic, flat characters. I felt like the father's lobotomized slave: sitting blankly through tedious torture scenes, wishing it would all be over. The only thing I find shocking is that it's at the top of many 'Best Horror of 2012' lists.
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