DVD review: The Loved Ones (2009)

14 Apr

This film may have too much going on upstairs to please its demographic. This is why demographics are morons and this film should be seen by everyone with a strong stomach.

There’s little denying the lack of bank made by The Loved Ones, but that is not its fault. This is a very good, bloody disturbing piece of cinema. Gore aficionados won’t be happy until around the sixty-minute mark (when things get kicked up a frightening number of notches) which in their minds probably wastes too much of the 81-minute running time. The Art crowd will find the initial limiting of splatter and upping of psychological torture pleasing but the final twenty minutes will laminate the scowls upon their sour-pusses.

This is no torture-porn shlock, whatever your inclination, the artfulness with which the horror unfurls is masterful. This film owes more to The Hills Have Eyes, Night of The Living Dead and Repulsion than I Know Who Killed Me. Full characters, motives explained without heavy-handed exposition, compelling imagery: this is one well put-together broad. The ironic use of colour and the careful visual metaphors throw film-wankers a bone, but my guess is the disco-glam promotional posters implied a kind of Carrie-meets-Pretty-in-Pink-meets-zombies, confusing the intended audience. A bunch of kids thought they were going to see an Aussie Twilight. They got fifty-minutes of beautiful shots, teen angst, metal, car crashes, parental guilt and Daddy’s creepy staring, then half an hour of crescendo-nightmare-hellscape. Not teen date-night stuff, here.

Some scenes were perfectly underplayed, such as a cat-fight in a VW, all the more frightening for their realism. And Michael Myers is way scarier as a chick with daddy issues and a cellar full of lobotomised ex-boyfriends.

Robin McLeavy as Lola is a gruesome blend of conniving brat and full-blown sadist, and the crazy in her eyes is pure and frothing. All Brent (Xavier Samuel) can do is hold on to that chair as she owns the shit out of him, and he does a convincingly excruciated job. Well-placed throwbacks assured us this would come good, but with every new horror inflicted upon him you doubt Brent will escape Lola and her father’s danse macabre. That is how you know this film is well made: it follows horror conventions, but you don’t know if it is or it isn’t until it has.

There’s a message it’s own creator should heed: Remember Sean, you CAN climb to freedom up a pile of corpses. Commendable stuff all together.

Out through Madman

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One Response to “DVD review: The Loved Ones (2009)”

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  1. Zombie Rising – New Macabre Art in Brown Tones « Laura Barbosa's Heart of Art Blog - April 16, 2011

    […] DVD review: The Loved Ones (2009) (australianfilmreview.wordpress.com) […]

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