Review: The Loved Ones by Jamie

It takes a lot for a film to disturb or scare me. One that did both those things in recent times was a little Australian horror film called ‘Wolf Creek’, released in 2005. It’s basically the story of what happens when a group of backpackers come across a really fucked up version of the villain character from ‘Rescuers Down Under’. I mean really fucked up. Like torture and kill people fucked up.

Yeah, that film certainly left an impression on me. It somehow managed to include scenes of people being tortured but I didn’t get that general feeling of pointlessness that I normally get when watching films which have been dubbed, for better or worse, as ‘Torture Porn’. There was just something going on beneath the terror that made me actually care and get scared. It was a genuinely good film.

So we come today to another little Australian horror film which I would certainly put in the exact same genre as ‘Wolf Creek’. I dunno what that genre would be called… ‘Good Torture Porn’ maybe? No, that has completely the wrong connotation. ‘More-ture Porn’ because there is more going on than in the typical torture porn film? No, that doesn’t seem right either. It doesn’t matter. The film for today is ‘The Loved Ones’.

Brent is an Australian high school student who killed his father in a car crash whilst trying to avoid a bloody figure in the road. He has a hard time dealing with the events of that day, understandable really, especially since his mother seems to blame him for her husband’ death, even if se doesn’t say it directly. Still he does find some comfort in his girlfriend Holly. Sexual comfort, that is. Plus she loves him or something. There’s also his somewhat comical sidekick Jamie who has a crush on Mia, goth daughter of a local policeman who’s dealing with some pretty deep issues of her own.

Then there’s Lola. L-O-L-A, Lola. Lo, Lo, Lo, Lo, LoLola… Sorry. That had to be done. Anyway, Lola seems to be a bit of a quiet girl, doesn’t have too many friends, that kind of girl. She approaches Brent by his locker and asks him to the school dance but he turns her down, saying he’s already going with Holly This is a decision he’ll probably end up regretting.

While Brent is what I’ll assume is the Outback, because it’s outside and in Australia, Brent is chloroformed and kidnapped. When he comes round, he’s tied up to chair inside Lola’s house, with decorations hung all over the place as though it were some kind of homemade school dance. Lola is present as is her father and a woman, who doesn’t seem particularly cognisant of what is going on, whom they call ‘Bright Eyes’. From here the torture begins.

Whilst all this is going on there’s a subplot running concurrent involving Jamie and Mia and their adventures at the high school dance which provides a little bit of humour to the otherwise very dark proceedings whilst also adding another layer to the main story through the problems Mia is dealing with.

And that’s pretty much all the plot I’m going to give away. Anything beyond this would probably be considered a spoiler. I’ll just say that FUCK! The torture in this film is brutal and when you come to realise just what it is they plan to do with Brent it just becomes more and more disturbing. The film also manages to just draw you in, the tension in one particular scene (all I’ll say is it involves a drill and a kettle) becoming so heightened that I kept on standing up and walking around the room, occasionally taking my eyes of the screen as it just kept building and building to almost unbearable levels. It was fucking awesome.

Despite this rampant torture, there is, like I said earlier, so much that sets this apart from your ‘Saw’ films or your ‘Hostel’ films. I couldn’t give a fuck about any of the characters in any of those films (except for Danny Glover in the first Saw because every time he plays a policeman, I like to think he’s still Murtaugh after something terrible has happened to Riggs) but in this film, and indeed in Wolf Creek, I do. I care about the people being tortured which just makes everything so much more visceral, tense and generally uncomfortable.

The performances are all solid particularly those of Lola (Robin McLeavy) and her Daddy (John Brumpton) who play of each other as a psychopathic, serial-killing and possibly incestuous duo with seemingly twisted glee. Brent ( Xavier Samuel) is also pretty great especially conveying his thoughts and feelings the way that he is forced to because, well, let’s just say that after a certain point he doesn’t have much to say.

Overall if you like sick, twisted horror but can’t stand bullshit like the ‘Saw’ series then ‘The Loved Ones’ is probably the film for you. If I have one criticism I have, it’s the ending which just kinda happens whilst leaving a few storylines a little too unresolved for my liking. Still, four pints out of five. Laterz.

What follows is a trailer which to my mind is actually quite spoilerey. Watch if you want!

%d bloggers like this: