You know going into this film I thought I had it figured out, after watching the trailer I thought ‘what idiots, they gave it all away’ but that was far from it. While the trailer does give away what the film is about, it actually doesn’t take too long to get there and what unravels is really unexpected and even more twisted then what I imagined. So what is The Loved Ones about? Brent (Xavier Samuel) is a young man in high school, having a fun time with his girlfriend Holly (Victoria Thaine) and watching the exploits of his best friend Sac (Richard Wilson). That is until fellow classmate Lola (Robin McLeavy) asks Brent to the dance, he turns her down as he has a girlfriend. This proves to be a huge mistake as Lola’s father (John Brumpton) kidnaps Brent for her, and then the real terror begins to emerge.
There is more to this then meets the eye, we find out from the get go that Brent is a very troubled boy. The film starts with a scene which shows Brent and his father driving in the car, having a laugh. When a bloodied man comes in front of the car (you’ll need to remember him for later), Brent swerves to miss him but ends up hitting a tree and killing his father. We fast forward to six months later, and we see signs that Brent and his mother aren’t over that trauma (Brent appears to be a cutter), and he is prone to just taking off. During one of those moments, he does wonder off, and this is where things get bad for him. With the school dance on that night, it seems strange to Brent’s mother and his girlfriend Holly that he isn’t there. Things get more worry some when the local policeman finds some of Brent’s belongings near where he was taken. They all can’t be sure what has happened to him, but as the audience we are soon to find out.
What unfolds before us is a very sick and twisted pairing of father and daughter, and the sick games they play. Lola is quite simply a crazy psycho! They have kidnapped Brent for what seems like a date, he’s tied up at the table, they have dressed him up and Lola and her father are also dressed up. Someone else is with them who appears to have been lobotomised, whether it is Lola’s mother or not isn’t entirely made clear. But what is clear is just how demented these people are, and things are not looking well for Brent. It seems no matter what he does, things are going to get worse, but how deep does this all go? Quite deep in fact, not to give too much more away but Brent isn’t the first victim of these two, and what has happened to them is truly frightening.
This film gets props for firstly giving us some real and likable characters. Brent is a troubled person but that does not make him a bad one. He does right by his girlfriend, while struggling with the events from his past. He wants to get on with things (that is how I understood it) but his mother has become over protective (and how could you blame her) and this he finds frustrating. Holly is a beautiful girl, she seems to really care for her boyfriend and for the short time we see her I really liked her. Brent’s friend Sac seemed like the typical high school guy we all knew, however his presence in the film seemed to be more of a distraction then anything else. Brent was a character you could easily get behind and care for, I certainly didn’t want to see any harm c0me to to him. So when things went bad, I really felt it, and I felt it hard! Lola and her father were two of the most demented characters I have seen in a film for some time, but not just that they were actually really convincing and they frightened me! It is easy for performances like this to become comical and not at all scary but these two made it work, even as things got really bad.
Performance wise everyone was on top of their game with Robin McLeavy being the stand out as Lola. I mean this girl was on fire, she managed to be cute yet extremely creepy and crazy all at the same time. I believed everything she did, and everything she had to say and if I were in Brent’s position I would have prayed for death. It takes a great performance to pull this off and she really delivered. Give this girl more roles, she has the potential to be another break out Australian star. Xavier Samuel had a tough role and he pulled it off, he was likable as I mentioned and he made every single thing that happened to him really hurt. The amount of torture his character goes through is terrible and he didn’t let up for a second. I can’t imagine that role would have been easy and props go to him for doing this. I have a feeling he will break out as a star as he has been in Twilight: Eclipse and has an up coming role in Twilight: Breaking Dawn. And good for him too, because he really deserves it, from what I saw here he’s a great actor. John Brumpton was as sick and twisted as they come, a great performance from him in this role. He was damn scary, he could have been the distant cousin of Mick Taylor (from Wolf Creek). As I said before the father and daughter roles were played perfectly, and they worked. These two had the perfect chemistry together, couldn’t have asked for anything better. Victoria Thaine was good as well, as were the other supporting players, but this film belonged to those main three.
As a horror film I did find this to be right up my alley, it was so twisted and sick to start with. It had some fantastic gore scenes, they were gross and at times I actually almost turned away. It all was very well done and quite realistic too, which I appreciate because when it looks fake it can really ruin the mood. The small country town Australia setting works so well for something like this because there is so much isolation, no body can hear you scream out there. This film made fantastic use of colour and the sets, I really liked it a lot. Where the film failed I think we had a useless sub-plot with Sac which went no where. It took too much away from the main story and I wasn’t invested enough to really care. But otherwise this is a great film and a nice addition to the genre. Always good to see great horror coming out of this country.
The Loved Ones was part of my Horror Films For October, you can find the entire list here.