The Loved Ones (2010)
Premiered on last year's Toronto International Film Festival, but wide-released this autumn, this Aussie horror flick, "The Loved Ones", tells the story of Brent Mitchell, a high school senior tormented with the guilt of his father’s death. He tries to escape the guilt and his emotional mother through drugs and metal music and only has his beautiful girlfriend, Holly, to keep him grounded. It’s time for prom and he knows who he’s going to take, but instead, Brent is sidetracked by a twisted secret admirer that puts him under a disco ball and gives him his very own prom. After a slow burning, yet spicy beginning, "The Loved Ones" turns into a boiling pot of extremely graphic, yet stylish torture fest, that tests how much the audience can handle. However, the most shocking and terrifying thing about this film is not the gory violence, but the perversely sick relationship between Lola and her "Daddy", which makes "The Loved Ones" even more disturbing... in a funny way though. Combining top-notch production design, great camera work, effective performances and excellent gore effects, director Sean Byrn delivers a fun, tense, unpredictable and visually-striking horror gem, that works on every single level. He also perfectly handles the balance between the horrific terror against our protagonist, Brent, with a secondary story about Brent's mum and girlfriend, who are slowly trying to put all the pieces together. And that makes the film even more grippingly entertaining! Acting -wise, "The Loved Ones" is also fantastic. Robin McLeavy steals the show, as she gives one hell of a performance. McLeavy is so convincing as the psycho freaky teen Lola, that she's downright nasty and truly horrifying. She's just TOO good. Xavier Samuel as Lola's vicitm, Brent, also does an amazing job, as he relies mostly on his facial expressions and body language to express his struggles and the pain pain he feels, since his speech is paralyzed when Lola injects an unknown blue preparation into his vocal chords. John Brumpton is just as creepy as Lola's depraved "Daddy". Richard Wilson and Jessica McNamee also giive great performances as Sac and Mia, who deliver most of the humor in the movie. Despite its small budget, visually the film looks quite slick, thanks to to cinematographer Simon Chapman and editor Andy Canny. The torture scenes and the practical gore effects are highly-stylized, yet so convincing and realistic, it's like a dream-come-true for the blood-thirsty audience. Dementedly-sick, extremely gory, brilliantly-creative and nightmarishly-funny, "The Loved Ones" is a true modern horror masterpiece!