Horror Channel Film Review: THE LOVED ONES (2009)

Written and directed by Sean Byrne

Starring Xavier Samuel, Robin McLeavy, Victoria Thaine, Jessica McNamee, Richard Wilson & John Brumpton

UK Release Date: 4th October 2010 (DVD Premiere)

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GENERAL PLOT:

Brent (Samuel) has had a troubled home life and now faces a carnival of carnage thanks to the crazed attentions of a deranged admirer with a wildly violent thirst for revenge.

THE GOOD:

Australia have built up quite the reputation when it comes to the horror genre; investing in up-and-coming independent film-makers who are passionate about this genre, wishing to make movies that are fresh and original unlike the pointless remakes of solid classics that get churned out by Hollywood over and over again. More to the point, Australian horror film directors live up to the hype of actually delivering all the necessary frights and scares that are so very much needed in horror today. Two fine film examples coming out from Australia that have left an unforgettable mark on me were Wolf Creek and The Babadook. I mention both of these as they’re just a couple to have emerged within the last decade or so to really frighten the wits out of me for a number of different reasons. This one is no exception and could quite possibly be the most scariest out of the three.

Stoner schoolkid Brent sure doesn’t have it easy at home at the moment, being plagued by a guilty past of getting his father killed in a tragic car accident that has given him an awkward relationship with his overbearing now widow mother. On top of this, he gets asked out to the school prom dance by weirdo outcast loner Lola (McLeavy) to which he immediately declines. Bad for him because turning down a girl that asks you out to the prom who just also happens to be your number one obsessive fan (or stalker) is terrible news indeed and its one of the golden rules you should never break in a horror film. But protagonists in these kind of teen horrors are of course dumb and if it wasn’t for their stupid naivety, we would never have these kind of films in the first place that are just so frightfully fun for all us horror lovers.

You can instantly detect the many film references that were direct influences that went into making this film, ones that stand out are recognisably The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Carrie and Fatal Attraction, to name a few. But director Sean Byrne knows that borrowing horror elements from other cult classics of the genre just isn’t enough and really ups the levels of gore, violence and brutal torture as much as he possibly can. From the point where we see the character of Brent get poisoned and kidnapped by Lola and her even more psychotically deranged father (Brumpton),  he’s tied to a chair in their living room that’s set up as a glitzy disco, where it dawns on him that he will be the main source of entertainment for the evening. He endures just about as much torture and suffering that the human body could ever take; including having nails hammered through his bare feet after a failed attempt of escaping their evil clutches, meeting face to face (literally) with a power drill as Lola drills a hole into his skull and having a drawing of a love heart being carved onto his torso in his own blood. These are scenes definitely not intended for the faint-hearted or those with a weak stomach. With all this going on, I was worried if Brent would finally make it out alive at all and get his revenge back. When the tables do finally turn, I felt like punching both my fists up in the air and cheering at the top of my lungs so much when Brent gains the upper hand. Everything leading up to the final climatic blood soaked carnage is so worth it.

The moral lesson of what this film is trying to teach you is that when a girl asks you out to the prom, for the love of God just say yes!

THE BAD:

Nothing bad I can think of here. For all you horror buffs that love your violence and gore, you definitely won’t be disappointed. It will please just about everyone that likes these type of horrors. You instantly hate both antagonists in The Loved Ones, so when the time comes for them to get whats finally coming to them, you’ll be loving every minute of it.

OVERALL VERDICT:

As a first feature length feature from Byrne, this is a really great and solid debut as well as a worthy addition to pretty explicit horror. Sick, twisted and seriously messed up in places, this has instantly become one of my favourites that I will return back to without any hesitation.

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

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