The Loved Ones (2012)
Directed by Sean Byrne
A standard horror movie runs about 90 minutes. When it runs 80 minutes you start to think "Well, it seems there were some budget concerns". But you can do a lot in 80 minutes and The Loved Ones does just that.
Released in 2009 in Australia, one can only wonder why this movie didn't get at least a theatrical release. Is it because Hollywood plans a remake? God knows they wouldn't have the balls to make it. Sean Byrne's debut film is filled with WTF moment after WTF moment, it's relentless and will make gorehounds ejaculate with glee (that's glee you perv). What it also does is pack some black humor into the mix, as the torture porn is packed with LOL bizarre moments. A "B" story also gives us some high school comedy like moments that eases our tension throughout the film.
The Loved Ones is the perfect combination of sour and sweet. One moment your seeing all hell break bloody loose and the next you're watching the nostalgia of prom night. It's the two perspectives on a special night, one that is awkwardly normal and the other straight out of a bizarro horror world. Our protagonist Brent gets the latter and it's been a while since I openly rooted for our final guy to get his revenge served cold.
This is the movie horror fans will call a cult classic and the ones horror fans will recommend to their causal movie fan friends. Prom has always had hijinky and quirky moments. That pesky virginity has to be lost. But you also grow up on that special night. In horror terms, you survive and that's all that counts.
When Brent turns down his classmate Lola's invitation to the prom, she concocts a wildly violent plan for revenge.
Poor Brent. He gets a case of those sad as his father dies in a car crash as Brent who was driving avoids a figure on the road. Months later, he has an overly concerned mom and a pretty hot girlfriend Holly. He also has a horndog best friend, likes Metallica and smokes weed.
Lola has not none of that. Just a crazy fucked up dad and some finger licking good chicken.
And so begins one of the best movies of 2012. Soon Lola's obsession for Brent has her having her own personal prom with Brent, her insane dad and zombiefied mom and something in the basement. It's not going to be good times for Brent as he's going to have to endure a Hostel torture endurance challenge that would make even Eli Roth squeal. In a parallel story, Brent's BFF Jaime goes to prom with Mia (a goth chick chopped full of attitude). It's this story that gives us breathers in between Brent's unfortunate events. As his girlfriend and the sheriff search for our missing final guy, it all leads to a punch in the stomach ending.
What The Loved Ones does so effectively is not take it self so seriously. It's a horror movie no doubt but the mood is a mix of 80s John Hughes high school melo-comedy if it were on bath salts. The movie is very tight. There are no scenes that seem unnecessary. Nobody goes and talks in wild tangent monologues. We get serious bang for our buck and the ride is so demented, so fucked up and so hilariously awesome you want to say why can't all horror movies be this good.
Describing The Loved Ones, you'd easily say it's about a demented wannabe prom queen who tortures her obsession. But in a way, it's got suspense thriller written all over it. In a way, it's kidnapping plot through and through where everybody is trying to figure out where the hell did Brent go? You want him to escape (and he does have his chances) and you want him to defend himself and somehow not get as badly damaged (but he totally gets badly fuckin damaged).
The Loved Ones does go into arduous scenes of Hostel territory. The slice and dice torture of Brent is masterfully executed. Armed with knives and a power drill, Lola executes her fucked up torture on a soundtrack of not being pretty enough. It's the little things that give you a glimpse of how Lola's world is like Leatherface family on steroids. Her mom has been zombified, she keeps a scrapbook of her best boy toys now dead and loves milk and chicken. It's well crafted to make you hate her so that by the end, you may want to clap at her demise.
Within here are skilled WTF moments, the craziest being what the fuck is in the basement. Also, just skilled playful scenes of a boy stuck in a tree. It's the balance of black LOL humor and horrific massacre of bodily harm that works. Because when we're not seeing Brent fucked up, we follow his BFF Jaime and his prom date Mia. It's this 80s comedy throwback of stoner boy with goth-tard chick doing teenager hi jinks that balances both story lines as we watch, then connects them at the end.
So you may ask who are the loved ones? Well it seems love comes in all form from what Byrne point of view. A father to a daughter, a mom/dad to a son, a girl to a boy, a crazy sicko girl to a boy. A boy to his dog. Clearly we must decide which relationship strikes a chord the most to us and realize love can be good or it can become the evilest thing you've ever seen.
Whatever you may think, The Loved Ones cements what I love about horror movies. Sometimes watching over an hour of hardcore horror is way too much. Intersperse it with scenes of juvenile American Pie jokes and it lessens the eye strain. The way the Loved Ones completes its plot and story arc make it feel like you watched a damn good stand alone episode of Carrie but Australian.
We'll get our prom gone all fucked up this year when Carrie goes all telekinetic, but if you want your fix now, I highly recommend you watch The Loved Ones as soon as you can. It's as good as getting a hole in your head.
Some steamy car sex boobs
Lots of moments Kathryn Bigelow would be proud of
Finding out what was in the basement
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
The Loved Ones is out on DVD. Check out the official site. I really do recommend this film. It's a perfect horror film that should not have been relegated to straight to DVD status when it hit American shores last year.
Check out the trailer.