The Loved Ones (2009) Poster

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7/10
Loved it
Superunknovvn27 September 2010
I wouldn't have thought, that I could watch one more torture horror movie and be entertained by it. "The Loved Ones", however, may be the last movie of that subgenre to actually be worthwhile. Really worthwhile, that is.

Much like "Wolf Creek", another Australian horror movie that took an ancient old premise and turned it into a tense and thrilling hellride, "The Loved Ones" is so masterfully crafted, it succeeds where it should fail. The actors - first and foremost the devilish pairing of Robin McLeavy and beady eyed John Brumpton - are just terrific, as is the cinematography and the set pieces. Beautiful bubblegum pink mixes with blood and guts. Director/writer Sean Byrne knows how to balance his first feature film between repulsive scenes and comedic relief.

In the end "The Loved Ones" becomes almost cartoonish and Tarantino-esquire in its climax: The movie has got you rooting so much against the villains that when they finally get theirs, you will howl in satisfaction.

Yep, "The Loved Ones" is the torture movie to end all torture movies. Hopefully, because NOW really everything has been said that needed to be said in that subgenre.
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10/10
Imaginative, frightening, delightful.
robertrosado10 October 2010
The horror genre is in as sad a state as ever. But it's not for lack of trying. The talent is there. The fan base is there. The possibilities are there. The main issue is a lack of common sense on behalf of producers and distribution companies. As with 2009's fabulous anthology "Trick 'r Treat", Australian-made "The Loved Ones" is a masterpiece that screened in numerous festivals to rave reviews from critics and audiences alike, only to be egregiously ignored by distributors. There is no way to justify how the much-maligned "Chain Letter" can open nationwide, while this bloodied gem must sit on the shelf, waiting for Hollywood to take notice. Writer-director Sean Byrne's auspicious debut is a cracked-out thrill ride, one that fans of the morbid and outrageous will eat up once given the chance to actually experience it.

High school senior Brent Mitchell (Xavier Samuel) is enjoying a leisurely drive with his father, when a mysterious figure appears in the road, causing Brent to crash directly into a tree. His father is killed instantly. Six months later, Brent has found himself in a pit of grievance. Obsessed with suicide and slowly withdrawing from his mother, he finds solace only in marijuana and his caring girlfriend, Holly (Victoria Thaine). When meek wallflower Lola Stone (Robin McLeavy) asks Brent to be her date to the end-of-school dance, he politely declines. Huge mistake. Before the end of the night, Brent will be abducted and bound, and discover that he has become a most unwilling guest to Lola's very own dream prom, hosted by her doting father (John Brumpton). The party favors? A rusty fork, a syringe, a hammer, and a power drill.

A quirky, suspenseful blend of 1986's "Pretty in Pink" and 1990's "Misery", "The Loved Ones" is a decidedly grotesque horror-comedy with more on its mind than merely grossing out audiences. By distilling the plot to its bare essentials, and not bogging down the proceedings in unnecessary exposition or explanation, director Byrne has crafted a lean, taut, perversely funny scare-a-thon. On top of that, it is not without relevant social implications, including the repercussions of grief, the indescribable hold that parents and children have on each other, and (yes) the fiery wrath of the high school female.

Byrne clearly has a respect and adoration for the genre, as he seems to have dissected exactly what it is about these films that audiences find appealing. The film is violent, to be sure, but just when it seems that the gore may become gratuitous or over-powering, an inspired stroke of dark comedy undercuts the action. As it stand, "The Loved Ones" recalls the reckless, rowdy spirit of the 80's, a time in which a committed group of filmmakers and actors pushed boundaries with the intent of taking the audience along for the journey. But at the same time, the picture is strikingly modern, forming its own identity with no intention of being a throwback.

Xavier Samuel is excellent as Brent, identifiable despite his character's gloomy condition. When the viewer first meets Brent, he is in an emotional wreck with no apparent hope for recovery. But when he finds himself staring death in the face, he must summon up every ounce of strength he possesses to fight back and survive. Victoria Thaine is a beacon of warmth as girlfriend Holly, who becomes fearful of Brent's whereabouts, and makes an effort to find him. John Brumpton is terrific as Eric Stone, a very sick man whose borderline-incestuous relationship with his daughter has sunk to unfathomable depths.

By and large, though, the film belongs to Robin McLeavy. Intent on making her party a diabolical night to remember, Lola is a villain far more threatening than initially thought possible. Because of the passion and focus she obviously brought to the role, McLeavy's portrayal transcends that of a one-note monster. Instead, she brilliantly interprets Lola as a petulant, psychotic little girl who doesn't take kindly to unrequited love, and sees her torture victims as toys in desperate need of fixing. Her chemistry with Brumpton is ripe with chaotic, demented hysteria. But it also rings true that they love - and need - each other. Lola Stone should join the canon of great horror villains, and that is not merely hyperbole.

The editing by Andy Canny is impeccably judged, keeping the story moving along at a nimble 84 minutes. Simon Chapman's cinematography is crisp, colorful, and drenched in mood. A highlight is the use of a disco ball that hangs in Lola's kitchen, casting romantic sparks of pink and purple over the sobering violence below. The soundtrack is energetic and well-chosen, making unforgettable use of Kasey Chambers' "Am I Not Pretty Enough?". Practical gore effects are used to illustrate the harm done to Brent and others, and they are perfection, always convincing and never once calling attention to themselves. And finally, special mention must go to Xanthe Huebel's costumes, particularly Lola's indelible hot pink dress. In every respect, the film could not look or sound better.

There are so few contemporary horror movies - let alone ones of the B.T.K. variety - that actually have something to say about the dark, unpredictable recesses of human nature, not to mention hold the ability to delight, intimidate, and ultimately satisfy even the most jaded fans. "The Loved Ones" is one such film. It is among the finest, most enjoyable movies the genre has seen in years, and seems destined for cult status. But in order for that to happen, it needs to be seen by the audience it so richly deserves.

NOTE: If you are thinking about looking up the trailer for this film............................ don't. It gives so much away, and part of the fun is the many surprises the movie has in store. If you absolutely must watch the trailer, stop it at exactly 1 minute!
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10/10
Instant cult classic, Xavier Samuel a breakout star
larry-41124 September 2009
I attended the International Premiere of "The Loved Ones" at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. In two words, the film is an instant classic. Sam Raimi step aside! This Australian "Carrie"-meets-"Misery" flick is perfectly executed in the hands of first-time feature director Sean Byrne. Star Xavier Samuel, as the sullen Brent, is simply mindboggling. He will eclipse many young actors in this awesome performance. He pulls off a stunning, agonizingly horrific portrayal of a teen forced to suffer at the hands of classmate Lola (Robin McLeavy), the jilted would-be prom queen.

The small cast boasts standout performances from Victoria Thaine as Brent's "real" girlfriend Holly and Jessica McNamee as Mia. As Lola's father Eric, John Brumpton is the creepiest villain this side of Michael Myers.

"The Loved Ones" is not for the faint of heart. Visuals are shockingly realistic and beyond compare. Robert Webb's production design is a character unto itself. Bright colors and cheery music are a perfect counterpoint to the horrific action taking place in the claustrophobic setting. Byrne's team fires on all cylinders, crafting a modern horror story that has cult classic written all over it, in blood.

Most of all, though, this is a tour de force for the young Samuel. It's too bad they don't have Oscars for "Best at Pain Endurance." His performance in "The Loved Ones" gives new meaning to the term "tortured actor."
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7/10
Fun! Light horror fans should give this a go.
kara_deguzman10 March 2014
This movie is a hell of a lot of fun. That's really all there is to it.

Having said that, it isn't without its faults. There will be things you don't understand, characters that aren't fleshed out, side stories that are seemingly pointless and don't really push the plot forward, etc. But really, did you expect that much from torture porn? But perhaps fans of the genre might find The Loved Ones a little unsatisfying, as some gore bits aren't as cringe-inducing as they could've been.

However, I was pleasantly surprised. The build up was a little boring, but by the end, man was my heart pumping. I was rooting for the main guy so hard! This is definitely a popcorn flick that doesn't require a lot of critical thinking. The characters are... charming, actors are great, the story unique, execution very nice, and the production design is also surprisingly aesthetically-pleasing. I think horror fans should definitely give this movie a go.
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Crazy Prom Date from Hell!
Many horror movies have been made about high school outcasts. High School in itself can be and is a real horror story for many kids across the world. "The Loved Ones" tells such a story that goes to extreme and disturbing lengths. The movie is from and based in Victoria, Australia and when it comes to bat s**t crazy movies the Aussies really go all out. Lola (Robin McLeavy) is a seemingly shy and meek girl who gathers her courage to ask her crush Brent (Xavier Samuel) to the prom. While Brent who looks a lot like the late Heath Ledger, already has a girlfriend he is going with. He politely declines her offer and leaves. Obviously hurt and disappointed Lola who with help from her father have plans to make it a night to remember.

Ever since Brent was involved in a car accident that took his dad's life he has never been the same. He was driving at the time and blames himself for his death. His mom has also become an emotional zombie. He spends his days smoking pot, listening to heavy metal music and contemplating suicide. His girlfriend Holly is caring and supportive but can only do so much. Just before picking her up for the dance he goes on another one of his lonely contemplative walks, when he is assaulted and kidnapped. If you can connect the dots you'll guess that it was Lola and her father. They bring him to their house and tie him to a chair.

A lot of what we see in the first half of "The Loved Ones" is nothing new, but things do get a lot better. Brent is tortured by Lola and her father. The family along with their creepy comatose almost dead mother is somewhat reminiscent of the crazy family from "Texas Chainsaw" but so many films have gone there it has become quite the horror cliché. At one point Brent does escape, but is quickly rounded up.

There is another storyline going on that really doesn't seem too fit. It follows Brent's BFF Jaime as he takes this Goth chick to the prom. They spend most of the time in the car drinking, smoking pot and being uncomfortable with each other until they start making out. There are some good character moments and the filmmakers do try to link up some of the characters and their "loved ones" towards the end but the whole storyline seems a little misguided. A third story line involves Holly, Brent's mother, and a policeman as they search for Brent.

Lola's torture of Brent starts going to extreme lengths and we also find out a bunch of disturbing back story of the family and what is really going on in their house. Brent is not her first play thing as there have been many others just like him, and she is getting good at it. The movie continues to go down a very dark path and gets just as insane as Lola and her father. Brent throughout his ordeal shows a strong will to live as he fights back against his captors with every chance he gets. The movie comes in at a very trim hour and twenty minutes and although it was made on a tight budget it looks and feels like something that cost a whole lot more. The violence and gore is pretty intense and extremely well done. This is director Sean Byrne feature debut and it will be interesting to see what he comes up with next. "The Loved Ones" is available on DVD or Blu-ray and is a must see for any horror fan.
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1/10
So bad it compelled me to sign up and review it.
teresa_talbot23 May 2011
I watched this film because my parents put it on. Thought they don't always choose my cup of tea, this choice was frankly bizarre.

This film was classed as horror but it's just gratuitous gore than doesn't really scare. The psychopathic Lola is just too ridiculous, and her supposedly scary taunting gets boring very quickly. There are several scenes that go on for far too long, and are punctuated by a poorly put together alternate story that is only very loosely linked to the rest of the 'plot'. Speaking of which, the scenes just seem to 'happen', with no build up, suspense or back-story.

I'm struggling to think of any positives. I could probably say that the comic relief isn't too horrendous.

I would advise strongly against this film.
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8/10
Macabre In Pink
Spikeopath3 October 2011
The Loved Ones is written and directed by Sean Byrne and stars Xavier Samuel, Robin McLeavy and John Brumpton. An Australian horror, the plot sees Brent Mitchell (Samuel) kill his father in a car accident. Stricken with grief he attempts to get on with his life aided by his girlfriend Holly (Victoria Thaine). But when the quietest girl in school, Lola Stone (McLeavy), asks him to the prom and he says no, he finds that he is suddenly the prom king star of a very different sort of party....

Kinda sick, kinda twisted, but an utterly compelling Aussie blood letting exercise that transcends torture porn whilst revelling in a sick sense of humour. With wry observations on teen angst and meditations on grief, loneliness, alienation and forbidden desires, Sean Byrne's film isn't out to solely shock the audience. With an evidently small budget to work from, Byrne has kept things tight and minimalist, this aids the film considerably, adding a sort of realism to the characters before it goes into overdrive as Brent (Samuel superb) finds that politely turning down Lola's (McLeavy a wonderfully monstrous creation) request has opened up (literally) a new world of pain. There's a misstep of a subplot involving another fumbling Goth couple actually going to the real prom, it serves no purpose other than to up the horny angst quota, but this is mostly slick/sick stuff. Backed by a kicking soundtrack, that's headed by the reoccurring Kasey Chambers hit single "Not Pretty Enough", itself creepy personified, The Loved Ones is highly recommended to horror fans who like a bit of torture in their diets. 8/10
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7/10
Turn around, bright eyes
teethgrrrinder6 June 2010
from the first scene The Loved Ones is able to achieve what bigger budgeted films cannot - clearly defined and appealing characters that you want to see more of.

the film splits 3 ways - the very serious family drama of the widow and tortured girlfriend - the comic/horror torture porn - and the comic high school formal/prom date. Sean Byrne shows off that he can do it all and succeeds hopping between these styles

the horror thread of this film is what it will marketed on. there is blood, LOTS OF BLOOD but very little gore. disappointingly, much of the violence takes place out of shot or has been cut. it is the weakest part of the film due to some over-acting by Princess whenever she goes 'crazy'. still, it's horrific and compensates by being damn funny

so, SCREW IT! this film is fun to watch!

excellent performances, good soundtrack and smooth production. i saw it at the Sydney Film Festival last night and i was very impressed. my apologies to Jessica McNamee. during a Q&A i referred to her as "thingy who played the goth chick'". she is awesome! her work with Richard Wilson is freakin' brilliant. the disastrous prom date, though loosely connected to the rest of the film, is my favourite part of it

not knowing where this film is going to lead you is half the fun. low-budget non-US films try harder and take risks. The Loved Ones does it all. Perfect date movie. See it!
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Blood-Soaked Tale a Winner At Toronto
MovieNut2376 January 2010
It's no surprise that Sean Byrne's relentlessly blood-soaked The Loved Ones won the Cadillac People's Choice Award at TIFF's midnight screening. The young Australian writer/director has since been hard-pressed for free time as many in Hollywood have been vying for his attention.

Since the film's premiere in Toronto, Byrne has been making frequent trips to LA and has been invited to speak with top execs. On this particular trip, Byrne's schedule has been tightly booked from morning until night on every single day thus far, including weekends.

For those who haven't seen The Loved Ones, it is an indie-horror treat. Let's just say, if Carrie from "Carrie" and Jigsaw from "Saw" "wanted to play a game," this film would be the perfect compromise between their approaches. What results is an anti-John-Hughes film that offers a cynical, frightening re-imagining of a high-school prom. The Loved Ones

The film benefits from a cast which is in full-tune with its director. And unlike many horror films today, Byrne's even has something to say. The film's bizarre title provokes us to think about the consequences of unrequited love and, more importantly, the real victims. Of course life would be easier if anyone we fell in love with immediately felt the same way. But in The Loved Ones, love is played as more of a cruel game for all characters.

It may be a bit unusual for American moviegoers to see a horror film carried by actors who speak with Australian accents. Although Peter Jackson was able to earn instant cult-status with his blood-splasher Dead Alive through similar New Zealand accents. Jackson and Byrne already share some in common.

Like Jackson, Byrne seems to be fascinated with shock-horror, fantasy, and even the supernatural. There is also an indie feel to Byrne's work reminiscent of Jackson's earlier low-budget films. So long as the young and talented Byrne is making movies, he just might have to get used to spending more time in Hollywood than at home.

www.filmcrusade.com
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8/10
Now THIS is what horror should be
dariansdad4 November 2012
What a ride! Just when I think it can't get worse for the victim, there's more pain just ahead. I'm on the edge of my seat the entire second half of the film looking for the redemption, the escape, the retribution. O M G, does it ever end? Forget zombies, this bitch does it live.

Daddy Dearest is another possible title. I was looking for the incest and the director does a deft job of keeping it 'just right there' without actually becoming... or does he? We see the setup; you can taste the realization. You almost have it in your grasp, but wait...

OK, so the first half is just denouement filler but it gets so much better. This film could have used some American (or maybe Japanese) cinematography and tons more budget yet it still pulls it off. Excellent film work closer to the end setting up the visual struggles that dialog can't.

Overall I would say this film is the little train that could. "I think I can, I think I can..." And then it does. Enjoy.
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3/10
An uninventive letdown
Jesse14 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Perhaps foolishly, I took my peers' overwhelmingly positive feedback in good faith and went to see this film at the cinema. After doing so, I feel that it is my duty to dissuade others from doing the same. The following contains minor spoilers, but nothing more than can be inferred from the trailer, or guessed minutes before it happens whilst watching.

The protagonist (Brent), a teenage boy who has lost his father in a car accident and has consequently transformed into the long-haired, self-harming, heavy-metal-listening stereotype that we are all too familiar with, is kidnapped by his rejected date to the 'school dance'. The girl, with the help of her father, abducts him while he is out in the Australian outback being angsty, takes him back to their quaint home and does an assortment of cringe-worthy violent acts, aimed primarily at tapping into the niche market of gore enthusiasts under the pretext of a twisted ritual that the two have developed over the years. (A concept or technique that is likely to arouse interest, and indeed, garnered my own, is used as part of this 'ritual' (from which the head-drilling seen in the trailer becomes necessary), though it is not the brainchild of the Sean Byrne (writer and director), but the notorious American serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer.)

An attempt is made at subplot: the boy's socially awkward friend and his 'date' get intoxicated, make a small scene at the school dance and then have sex on school property. While this offers comic relief to an extent, it fails to add anything to the story as a whole.

With the relentless accents, shots of the wilderness, Utes and endemic phrases such as "wadda you lookin' at?", the audience is simply not allowed to forget that the film is Australian, as though this fact is imperative to their enjoyment. It seems to me as though Byrne, aiming to create a cult-classic, examined other Australian titles to reach this status (namely Wolf Creek), took elements from that (the Australian outback, accents and violence), added a bit of controversy in the form of incestuous relations, ensured not to cast the main character as anyone unfortunate looking and figured that he had it made.

The characters are cliché and translucent (though John Brumpton does a convincing job playing the girl's father), there are no plot twists, nothing is withheld from the viewer in order to be excitingly revealed later in the piece, the film has practically nothing to maintain one's interest; it's straight-forward from start to finish. To top it all off, a Hollywood-tainted ending is stuffed down our throats and we are expected to walk back to our cars feeling emotionally satiated. Little more occupied my mind other than a list of infinitely more enjoyable things I could have done with $14.
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6/10
Well acted and sadistic, but nothing special.
Scott LeBrun24 February 2014
"The Loved Ones" is an adequate example of the now well-worn "torture" genre, but for the most part it's likely to give viewers a feeling of deja vu. It gets more interesting & amusing as it goes along, but doesn't have very much plot - or much point to it at all. It's likely to delight the hardcore horror crowd who favour cruelty and plenty of gore, in any event. The main asset is a memorable antagonist who's cute but deadly. We don't ever get to know the victim that well, but it's not exactly hard to feel bad for him. (One thing must be said: he has a lot of fight in him!) Also, there's a subplot with two characters that never really goes anywhere.

Lola, a.k.a. "Princess" (Robin McLeavy, "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"), doesn't take rejection well at all. When Brent (Xavier Samuel, "Road Train") declines to take her to the prom, she gets back at him in a major way, by having her dear old daddy (John Brumpton, "Storm Warning") abduct Brent so they can spend the night tormenting him at their own private gathering. Soon he learns just how utterly demented this duo is; meanwhile, people notice he's missing and try to track him down.

If it weren't for a squirm-inducing scene involving a power drill - it's the sound effects that really sell it - and the tour de force acting by McLeavy, there wouldn't be much to recommend this. That is, of course, unless one is partial to this sort of material to begin with. Unfortunately, even for a movie running a scant 85 minutes long, it feels longer than it is. And it's ultimately pretty damn predictable.

Good soundtrack, though.

Six out of 10.
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1/10
Bol**cks
rock_this_w18 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Such a load of bol**cks... Seriously? A teenage (maybe early twenties) girl killing so many people? Spoiler: There are bones of maybe 30-40 people in her basement, are you really trying to tell me not one of those people was able to overpower a scrawny girl? I'm not trying to be sexist here but that's a load of sh*t. Granted she had the help of her father but her dad was even smaller than her! I don't believe any of that for one second. I'm a biggish guy and I know that in a hand to hand fight I could mop the floor with both of them at once. They have no combat training, they have barely any weapons... I'm a stickler for realism but this is just crossing the line.
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8/10
Love hurts, love scars, love wounds and marks...
Chalice_Of_Evil4 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Have you heard about the lonesome loser? That's the song that plays as a car drives down the road. At the wheel is Brent (Eclipse's Xavier Samuel), with his father as a passenger. A bloodied guy wandering in the middle of the road (don't you hate that?) causes the car to swerve and crash, killing Brent's father. Six months later, Brent's hair is longer, he's guilt-ridden and with a girl named Holly (Victoria Thaine). We then meet Lola (Robin McLeavy), whose introduction is rather abrupt. There's no real lead-up to it. After seemingly appearing out of nowhere, she asks if Brent will go to the school dance with her (this is the only bit where she looks/sounds like a relatively nice normal girl and not INSANE). He apologises, politely informing her that he's going with Holly. He then leaves, as Lola stares after him evilly. If this wasn't a big enough hint that she's unhinged, we also see her watching Brent and Holly as they have sex in Holly's car. Brent later ventures to the middle of the bush with his dog, where he's chloroformed from behind by a man who we learn is Lola's sicko father (John Brumpton).

Brent awakes to find himself bound to a chair in formal wear at Lola's home, the place decked out like the school dance. We get an early indication of just how evil Lola is, as she's listening to 'Not Pretty Enough' by Kasey Chambers on repeat when her equally twisted father presents his "Princess" with a dress....then proceeds to watch her get changed into it. Together, they inject Brent in the neck with a blue substance to keep him quiet, then force him to pee in a glass (or have that particular appendage nailed to the chair). He manages a momentary escape, before being chased up a tree by Lola's father in his Kingswood and having rocks thrown at him by Lola, which causes Brent to fall onto the car below, knocking him out so they can tie him up once again. Then the REAL pain begins, as Brent has knives hammered into his feet, a heart carved into his chest with a rusty fork (and salt tossed on the wound), and is forced to dance with Lola whilst being subjected to KASEY CHAMBERS. If that wasn't bad enough, it seems his sufferance has been for naught, as Lola informs him he's not her prince, just a frog. Seems she's much more interested in her daddy....and the feeling's mutual.

Think things couldn't get any worse for poor Brent? Hardly. Lola proceeds to drill a hole into his forehead and the sounds of it are truly disgusting. She then wishes to tip boiling water in it to boil his brains, but the hole's not big enough and she wants to make it bigger. Her father obliges, but Brent finally frees himself again and gets some long overdue revenge against the psycho bastard. Brent unfortunately winds up trapped in a hole with Lola's previous brain-boiled boyfriends, which he has to fight off. She makes the fatal mistake of telling him exactly what she's going to do next (go after his mother and Holly), and looks truly scary as she does so. Next thing, she's walking down the middle of the road singing to herself creepily (guess which song) when Holly happens by in her car. Cue girl-fight. Brent makes another miraculous escape from Lola's House of Pain and (despite the holes in his feet and forehead) drives a car to Holly's rescue. Lola proves to be one tough mother to kill, but once Brent finally puts an end to her psychotic Kasey Chambers-loving life...it's pretty damn satisfying. Great use of a slow-mo closeup too.

There's a subplot that we keep cutting to, involving Brent's friend and the goth girl he wants to go to the dance with named Mia (Rachel McAdams lookalike, Jessica McNamee - who's very good in her role). While it provides a bit of relief from all the torture scenes, and Mia's revealed to be connected to a previous victim of Lola's, it doesn't really amount to very much.

Though Xavier Samuel's mute for the majority of the film, you can't help but feel for the guy (I also felt sorry for his poor dog). His performance is all about the way he reacts to the horror he's put through. He portrays pain like nobody's business. The stand-out performance, however, has got to be Robin McLeavy. Lola is one twisted sister, and McLeavy completely immerses herself in the role, taking 'deranged' to a whole new level. She's created a frighteningly sadistic character who's right up there with the best of them. John Brumpton is also excellent. The two play off each other exceptionally well. Theirs is a truly disturbed dynamic and it makes for captivating viewing. I'm sure certain people will flock to this movie solely for the violence, but what should really be appreciated here is the acting and directing. First-time filmmaker Sean Byrne has created a dark, tension-filled horror affair (with a morbid sense of humour) that thankfully doesn't overstay its welcome. Displaying great skill with a camera, shots are finely crafted and he gets the most out of his actors, as well as the Australian setting.
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8/10
A genuine crowd-pleaser
aaronrourke30 July 2009
After a number of disappointing and outright bad films that have come out of this country in recent years, we finally have what could be one of the most talked-about Australian films since 'UNDEAD'. Having turned up quietly at this year's Melbourne International Film Festival, this efficient, stylish, and energetic film proves to be far superior than the more publicised 'VAN DIEMEN'S LAND', and deserves as much success and great word-of-mouth it can get. The best way to enjoy this film is not to read anything about the plot. The less you know about the film going in the better. Rest assured you will be taken on quite a ride. Performances are excellent, and perfectly in tune with the material. Xavier Samuel (turning up in the third instalment of TWILIGHT), Victoria Thaine ('48 SHADES' / 'CATERPILLAR WISH'), Robin McLeavy ('48 SHADES'), Richard Wilson ('THE PROPOSITION' / 'CLUBLAND'), Jessica McNamee (TV's 'PACKED TO THE RAFTERS'), and veteran John Brumpton ('LAST RIDE' / 'ROMPER STOMPER' / 'DANCE ME TO MY SONG' / 'STORM WARNING') all deserve special mention. Considering its small budget, 'THE LOVED ONES' is a slick looking movie. Credit goes to cinematographer Simon Chapman and editor Andy Canny, who both worked on the director's short film 'ADVANTAGE'. Great work is also done by production designer Robert Webb ('WOLF CREEK' / 'ROGUE'). Writer/director Sean Byrne combines black comedy and horror/thriller confidently, as he did with his impressive 2007 short film 'ADVANTAGE'. He turns one kind of film into another with skill, never stumbling when he makes the transition. Like his short film, Byrne knows what to show and when to cut, and he again shows his great ear for sound design. Director Byrne, and stars Samuel, Thaine, and McLeavy were at the screening I attended, and you couldn't wish more success on a better group of people. Mr Byrne announced that 'THE LOVED ONES' will be playing in the Midnight Madness section at the Toronto Film Festival in September. So please, everyone in Canada and the U.S please greet this film with open arms, and please give this talented young director your warm support. You won't be disappointed.
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9/10
Twisted, Dark, and full of blood. A maniac in pink.
lucyrichards275 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
When I first watched the trailer for this, I knew it was going to be great. Every characters performance contributes the overall feel of the movie but the ones we must pay closest attention to are Robin McLeavy's and John Brumpton's. Robin's performance is creepy, insane and very well executed. Her whole persona is totally believable as a serial killer. Her relationship with her father, John Brumpton, is dark and maybe even pushes the barriers of what's watchable, which is both a good and bad thing. I, as a viewer, were glad to not have seen her kiss her father, even though the suggestion was there, that was enough for me. The twist in the movie, where we discover what is underneath the floorboards, was very unexpected in my opinion also. There is just the right amount of sqeamish gore. Just when you think it's over, it goes back in for more; it really likes to push what's acceptable.

The film has some deeper and more serious meanings. The one that I identified was the loss of identity or lack of identity. It is clear to see that 'Princess' (Robin McLeavey) is completely mollycoddled by her father. She gets everything she wants, when she wants it from 'Daddy'. Her room is filled with soft toys and mens' torsos, cut out from magazines. Her mind is clearly still childlike and lastly, she is a complete loner in every aspect of her life, apart from when she's at home with her father. She has been torn apart by jealousy, even for her own mother, whom she calls 'Bright eyes'. She wants people to love her, and only her. Princess just wants daddy to love and accept her, and she wants to find her one true love. I wonder what her wedding will be like... Probably the same twisted scenario!

Jessica McNamee, aka Mia, mostly remains silent, doesn't smile or interact with her parents and only comes alive with vodka and marijuana. She dresses in black and does not care to look feminine. Xavier Samuel aka Brent, has his headphones in all the time, is emotionally broken since his father died and doesn't get on with his mother. I would strongly recommend watching this if you want a demented, squeamish film that is guaranteed to leave an impact on you. L x
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1/10
Good moron dear
dusan-226 October 2010
I need assistance. This is a horror movie? Why is a sadism called horror? What is scary about it? Is loathing the same as scary? Is sexually twisted mind the same as thrilling mind? I was tricked by the high IMDb grade but I faced so frcking boring movie like the worst made in Hollywood. Good cast and acting just wasted. Nothing that can nail you to the chair, make you scared if only for a second. OK, we are all scared from different things but can't we sometimes be scared of the same? What happened to good old horror movies that involve tense pace and unexpected? Gone with John Carpenter? I can't get it. Every movie era has it masters and its copycats, but it seems that this one is abundant with copycats only. Worst thing is that they copy the very same things over and over again.
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3/10
Some Girls Don't Take Rejection Well
Chris_Pandolfi1 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The first fifteen minutes of "The Loved Ones" promise an intriguing character study. But then, out of nowhere, it devolves into a confused, disgusting, sadistic, pointless revenge fantasy, one that exists more for the horror and shock value than for anything else. If there is something to be gleaned from this story, and I mean on a level apart from violence and gore effects, I have absolutely no idea what it is. I toyed with the idea that it might have been a veiled commentary on the trauma of being a teenager, but to be perfectly honest, I was blindly grasping at straws in an attempt to sound knowledgeable – or, at the very least, to come off as understanding of this particular film. I have no doubt that the audiences it's intended for will somehow find a way to apply meaning to it. They always do, even when it's obvious that there's really nothing to apply.

But let's examine that initial fifteen minutes. We begin with a high school senior named Brent (Xavier Samuel) driving with his father on a back road somewhere in the middle of Australia. Brent swerves to avoid a bloody and shirtless teenage boy, who has wandered onto the road. The car then smashes into a tree. Brent's father is killed. Six months later, Brent has fallen into a depression, perpetuated in part by his equally distant mother, who deep down blames her son for her husband's death. Apart from his friend, Jamie (Richard Wilson), and his girlfriend, Holly (Victoria Thane), he avoids most social contact. He numbs himself with indecipherable rock music and pot. He has started cutting himself, as evidenced not only by the scars on his side but also by the razor he has on a chain hanging around his neck.

It's time for the senior dance party. While packing his backpack at his locker, Brent is approached by a pretty but clearly insecure girl named Lola (Robin McLeavy). She timidly asks him to the dance. Brent does not rudely reject her; he simply apologizes and explains that he's already going with Holly. Brent walks away. Lola stands there, humiliated and dejected. Not long after, Brent leaves his house in a controlled fury, his mother clearly unhappy with the fact that Holly will be driving Brent to the dance despite the fact that she has earned her license. Brent goes to a secluded cliff-side area to smoke his new stash of pot and not feel. At his side is his dog, who he obviously cares about. Because he's listening to music on his MP3 player, Brent doesn't hear it when a man sneaks up behind him. There's no time to react when the man covers Brent's mouth and nose with a rag soaked in what I suspect is chloroform.

And that's the point at which the film loses its way. Brent comes to in the dining room of Lola's house, tied to a chair in front of a dinner table. Lola is there too; she's in a pink prom dress and has decorated the room to look like the scene of a school dance, complete with a working mirror ball. Also present is Lola's father, referred to exclusively as Daddy (John Brumpton), the man who drugged and kidnapped Brent. Finally, there's an unknown woman known only as Bright Eyes (Anne Scott-Pendlebury), who sits there like a vegetable with a hole in her forehead. We learn that Daddy and Lola are unusually close, and that he helps his daughter perpetuate her ... tendencies towards teenage boys. They both spend the rest of the night subjecting Brent to numerous acts of torture and maiming. They ruin his voice by injecting his throat with cleaning fluid. They hammer knives through both of his feet. They carve a heart onto his chest, after which Lola makes the open wounds burn with some kind of powder. And so on.

Apart from the fact that these scenes are needlessly excessive, the film is severely weakened by an awkward structure. We understand that Brent is somewhere being tortured, and we know that Holly, Brent's mother, and a cop are all worried and make a plan to find the missing young man. But what are we to make of a subplot featuring Jamie and his date, Mia (Jessica McNamee), a moody and rebellious goth chick who just happens to be the cop's daughter? Not only does nothing scary or upsetting happen to these characters, they're not even connected to the main plot. We see them go to the dance, get high on pot in Jamie's car, spend a little time at the dance, get kicked out for being too bawdy, and then return home. That's it. Did writer/director Sean Byrne cut and paste these scenes from an entirely different movie?

Things take a gory and unpleasant new turn for Brent, and for the audience, with the introduction of an electric drill and a kettle of boiling water. This eventually paves the way for the secret of what lies underneath the floorboards of Lola's house. This, along with a presentation of Lola's disturbing scrapbook album, seriously calls into question the plausibility of her obsessive behavior patterns. If she were as prolific a monster as she appears to be, it seems quite unlikely that she or her father would have gotten away with it as long as they had. But I know that it's useless applying logic to a film like this. "The Loved Ones" had a promising start, but it rapidly fell victim to the horrific, exploitive whims of the filmmakers. Had the story relied less on gore and more on character development, it just might have worked.

-- Chris Pandolfi (www.atatheaternearyou.net)
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3/10
Trashy, derivative nonsense
Leofwine_draca18 September 2012
I'd heard good things about THE LOVED ONES, and I was looking forward to seeing it: it promised a level of Antipodean nastiness on par with the quietly disturbing WOLF CREEK, another opportunity for the Australians to get one over on Hollywood. Sadly, it turns out to be a quite awful movie, almost descending to the level of amateur filmmaking on more than one occasion. This is derivative bunkum that offers a few nice establishing shots of the outback, but that's about it.

The small-scale storyline is about a crazy girl whose offer to accompany her chosen partner to the prom is rejected, leading to a rampage of revenge. It sounds ridiculous, and CARRIE this ain't: THE LOVED ONES is content to emulate rather than innovate and has little to do with reality. In the end, it turns out to be nothing more than a HOSTEL-inspired, strapped-to-a-chair torture flick. It's totally unbelievable with it, especially in regards to how much punishment a body can undergo while still functioning normally.

The plotting is so thin on the ground that there are loads of unnecessary scenes to make the movie longer: endless, needless sex scenes, dull dialogue, and a totally extraneous sub-plot involving a goth girl attending the prom that's just there to pad things out another twenty minutes. Sure, there are flashes of interest – the usual bizarre rural families (see STORM WARNING for a similar, better movie) for whom craziness is a way of life, some outrageous dinner table scenes (c.f. BRAINDEAD), and John Brumpton's character, who belongs in a better movie. But for the most part, THE LOVED ONES is a total turn-off.
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