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The Loved Ones (2009)

  Tags: Ambience Entertainment, Aussie, australia, australian, Jessica McNamee, John Brumpton, killer, prom, psychopath, revenge, Richard Wilson, Robin McLeavy, romance, Sean Byrne, The Loved Ones, thriller, torture, Victoria Thaine, Xavier Samuel

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Sean Byrne
84 minutes
Xavier Samuel, Robin McLeavy, Victoria Thaine, Jessica McNamee, Richard Wilson, John Brumpton

The Loved Ones is a film that offers nothing new to the table (literally, as you'll see in the movie), but thanks to the creative direction newcomer Sean Byrne took with it, we're given a surprisingly refreshing look at the normally bland psychopathic family sub-genre.

The story is pretty simple -- we follow Brent a troubled young high school student who's still stressing over causing the death of his father after swerving out of the way of someone on the road and going head first into a tree. His only solace from the guilt is his escape into a cloud of drugs and loud music. After politely declining an invitation to the prom from the strange Lola, Brent goes about his normal business, but will soon discover that Lola has other plans in mind for him later that day...

The Loved Ones isn't a movie that's looking to break any new ground here, taking notes from past psycho-family genre efforts  and giving the most obvious nod to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre dinner scene. I mean, a majority of this movie is taken place in front of a small dining room table, consisting of the insane Lola, her equally sadistic father, and an older woman simply known as "Bright Eyes", whom has a questionable hole in the middle of her head (that can't be good).

Antagonist Lola is quite possibly one of the meanest and most memorable female villains I've seen from the genre in years. She can go from soft-spoken to yelling repeatedly for Brent to cry after getting knives hammered into his feet in a matter of seconds, all the while still reverting back to her seemingly innocent self. Truly a sight to behold.

Her father isn't as memorable, but his willingness to do whatever it takes to please his daughter and his equally incestuous yearning for her makes him a creepy character and villain not to be trifled with. The film goes into little detail on how the father-daughter duo have been doing this type of thing for years, and we learn more of their story as the movie progresses, but we don't get straight answers about everything, leaving some room for audience interpretation (aside from one key factor, little is known about Bright Eyes).

We're given breaks from the events taking place around the dining room table when we follow Brent's friend  "Sac" as he goes to the prom with a female outcast. These scenes really have no reason to be in the movie aside from delivering a little comic relief and giving the viewer a little more to look at aside from just poor Brent trying to survive the violent ordeal with the family.

There's a decent amount of blood and use of practical effects, as well a nice ensemble of music and moody tunes for the appropriate sequence. Director Sean Byrne makes good use of slow-mo during key scenes and delivers an incredibly memorable and almost dream-like climax.

The Loved Ones is a surprisingly good addition to the psycho-family sub-genre. The flick doesn't necessarily deliver anything we haven't already seen, but its creative, ballsy, and (at times) dream-like approach towards certain scenes and events that take place make it stand out among the rest. Not to mention the Lola character will also likely remain as one of recent horror's most memorable female villains. Definitely worth a check.

Posted on October 8, 2010 - 10:54am | FrighT MasteR