Director: Sean Byrne (2009)
Starring: Xavier Samuel, Robin McLeavy, John Brumpton
Torture guff with a more feminist touch than most (well, it's a dude getting tortured for a change, and not a lady), The Loved Ones pits funky Kurt Kobain wannabe Brent (Samuel) against a crazy stalker girl (McLeavy) with grim results.
Whilst the plot might sound Misery-lite or reminiscent of such trash as Homecoming, the movie is much more intelligent and a whole lot better than that. Obviously Misery is the template and the better movie, but The Loved Ones clings to that template less than some, and brings plenty of its own twisted innovations to the kitchen table.
Still raw from the death of his father, Brent turns down the seemingly shy Lola's invitation to the Prom. Lola is cute and all, but Brent has more important things to do with his time. Like cut himself, for example. And fuck his girlfriend in the car. But Lola got serious issues, and has Daddy (Brumpton) kidnap Brent. Some people just can't take no for an answer. Brent wakes up in Lola's kitchen for a family dinner seemingly inspired by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. What follows is like Martyrs crossed with High School Musical. And if that sentence doesn't make you want to see The Loved Ones, then you fail at liking movies.
It's been a while since I was impressed by - and actually liked - a torture movie. I'm starting to get jaded by that shit now. The Loved Ones, whilst delivering on the violence and gore front (and gee whizz, does it) has a nice emotional undercurrent to it. Brent has a proper character arc at play and everything, and 'the loved ones' of the title works on several levels. The Loved Ones is torture guff with a semblance of intelligence. That's almost rare these days.
The acting is pretty good across the board. I wasn't sure about Xavier Samuel at the start, but he soon manages to get the audience on board. Playing Lola's Daddy, John Brumpton is the best of the bunch. The character's relationship with his daughter is both sweet and kinda icky at the same time. McLeavy is perhaps a little too crazy for my liking. I know she's supposed to be a kook, but she's very much a caricature and a one-note loon. I'd have liked a little more texture to her characterization. But McLeavy does well. Especially when you consider that she's playing a character whose theme tune is this:
Hmm. Come to think of it, I'm starting to worry that I'm in danger of actually properly liking that song. Like a reverse Pavlov's dog perhaps, I associate Not Pretty Enough with the feeling I had whilst watching The Loved Ones. You know what, fuck you, I'm playing it top volume next time I stalk my exes on facebook.
Ahem. While we're at it, another admission: watching The Loved Ones, I kinda had a thought that just wouldn't go away. "Yeah, that Lola could kidnap me anytime."