Optimum Releasing – 84 minutes
Sometimes less is more , and with The Loved Ones that is definitely the case . This films doesn’t try to be clever it is just a really grim , dark and nasty film set in a small town in Australia . It is beautifully acted , the sets are perfect and the script is funny yet utterly terrifying.
The film starts with student Brent (Xavier Samuel) driving along with his dad when a mysterious figure appears in the middle of the road forcing Brent to swerve and smash head first into a tree killing his father.
Six months later we rejoin Brent who is still struggling to come to terms with his fathers death and his part in it.
Slowly withdrawing from his friends and his mother Brent finds solace in marijuana, self harm and his loving girlfriend Holly (Victoria Thaine).
It’s the day of the prom and Brent is asked to the prom by Lola (who is played by the fantastic Robin McLeavy) but he has to politely decline as he is going with his long-term girlfriend Holly. This scene is very reminiscent of Carrie as Brent walks off and leaves her standing alone and bereft by the school lockers.
Later that day Brent is at home and after a brief encounter with his mother who still blames him for the death of his dad and armed with a stash of pot Brent goes for a walk with his dog. Sitting down listening to his MP3 player he is unaware of a man who walks up behind him and drugs him using ( we are lead to believe) chloroform.
And now the films really kicks off. Lola has organised her own prom and unbeknownst to Brent he is her guest. Daddy (John Brumpton) is tremendous as Lola’s doting and psychotic father who will do whatever it takes to make sure his daughter has everything she needs.
Brent comes round tied to chair at a dining table and from then on we have a Misery meets Pretty in Pink meets Jeffrey Dahmer rollercoaster ride through torture, degradation, panic, incest, psychosis, suspense and blood.
There is also a sub plot of Brent’s socially awkward friend Jamie (Richard Wilson) and his prom date Mia (Jessica McNamee) . They turn up to the prom and spend a while in the car drinking vodka and smoking pot before entering the prom, dancing inappropriately and being asked to take that sort of thing elsewhere (which they do). We also find out that Mia’s brother has been missing for about 6 months and no clue as to his whereabouts.
I totally loved this film. Yes it is nasty but it has enough humour and subtlety to carry this off. There is a lot of blood but really very little gore, in fact the real unease and horror in this film comes from the fantastic performances of Lola and her father. They play the parts so well and so realistically that it feels like you are intruding on an incestuous home video.
A wonderfully depraved 8/10