The Loved Ones – Redefining Sick And Twisted

The Loved Ones – Redefining Sick And Twisted

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  1. Other than found footage films, torture films have become very prevalent in the horror world. It’s sometimes even tough to call them horrors, though, because they aren’t actually scary; they are simply disturbingly disgusting. And they all seem to be the same. Sean Byrne’s feature directorial debut, The Loved Ones (2009), is not just like the rest. It actually hit the Toronto International Film Festival in 2009 and won the People’s Choice Award. It hasn’t won any other awards, but certainly could have. It may have been overlooked because it was released in Australia, or because it is a very low budget indie horror… which are a dime a dozen.

    What is it about?

    Popular high schooler, Brent (Xavier Samuel), gets asked to the end of school dance by the very strange Lola (Robin McLeavy); he immediately says ‘no’. She doesn’t deal with this very well. That’s an understatement because she seeks a brand of revenge that rivals any revenge ever taken in a film… ever. This film redefines sick and twisted.

    Lola’s eerily disconnected father (John Brumpton) kidnaps Brent and, together with his daughter, they stage a special end of school dance for just Brent and Lola. First they inject Brent with a substance that leaves him barely able to talk. Then they force feed him a “lovely” family dinner before the dance is set to start. He ends up breaking free and running, but he doesn’t get far before Lola and her daddy capture him again. This time they make sure he won’t get away by nailing his feet to the floor using knives and a hammer.

    As the film goes on, you find out that Lola has done this three other times to three other boys. None of whom loved her like she wanted them to so she and her daddy decided to drill holes in their heads and pour boiling water in that hole to literally boil their brains… like I said, it redefines sick and twisted. To make it even worse, they have kept these three boys alive.  Apparently, boys with boiled brains become zombie-like creatures that feed on human flesh… and stay trapped in the basement below Lola’s house. Will Brent be able to escape? Or will he get his brains boiled and be forced to live out the rest of his days in a living nightmare?

    Is it any good?

    If you can get past the disturbing nature of Lola and her father’s plan… which is a big if… then yes, it is very good. The most memorable thing about this film is how it’s shot. Lola’s version of the end of school dance is shot exactly like you would see a real school dance shot in the movies. And the way Byrne’s camera treats Brent and Lola evokes feelings of a sappy love story. But this is a very twisted story. It’s a wonderful paradox that is extremely well done.

    Most importantly, however, Robin McLeavy is disturbingly good as Lola. She brings a childlike innocence to the character while doing some of the most disgusting and terrible things you will ever see someone do on film. This just adds to the gut wrenching paradox that defines this film. Be on the lookout for more of Robin McLeavy because she has a promising career ahead of her if she can be this good in other types of films.

    Nolan’s Grade:  A-

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