“The Loved Ones” has a constant tense atmopshere, and it just proves that Australians know how to make films extremely well. It follows Brent (Xavier Samuel), a young man who has just turned down Lola Stone’s invitation to the prom. Lola (Robin McLeavy) enlists the help of her father (John Brumpton) to kidnap Brent, and force him to be her prom king – regardless of what he thinks about that. As Lola and Daddy concoct their game, Brent’s mother, girlfriend and the police sheriff launch a search party to find him.
I haven’t been felt this tense during a movie for a long while; and that just says this film does its job. It’s often darkly funny, but always disturbing – in a sort-of gleeful way that makes you want to look away, but honestly, you probably won’t be able to. It takes such a simple premise of kidnapping and makes something special with it, as it constantly goes in unpredictable directions one would never expect from a film. This is why indie films can be so awesome – you’d probably never see a mainstream flick take some of the edgy roads this does. This reminds me of “Carrie”, so it’s as if a Stephen King fan just went the extra mile with the story.
However, this doesn’t go without its flaws. There’s an occuring sub-plot that shows the real prom – with one of Brent’s buddies taking a slutty chick to the prom. It definitely looks more fun than the prom Brent is at, but the film could be just as good without this somewhat redundant sub-plot. Though, I sorta appreciate it because it gives two-minute breathers from the insanely violent scenes with Lola and Daddy. The other flaw is – as great as McLeavy’s performance is as the crazed Lola – she seems too pretty to have to be the one to do the asking for prom, not vice versa.
“The Loved Ones” is so much crazier, and smarter, than one’s everyday sort-of torture porn film. It’s very smart and it feels fresh. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to listen to the main song called “Not Pretty Enough” without feeling tense ever again. It’s a messed-up film, but it’s unforgettable, has a gleefully insane performance by Robin McLeavy, and you’ll feel disturbed more than a few times throughout this flick. It teaches you that you probably shouldn’t decline someone’s invitation to the dance. There’s drills, hammers, needles, the whole nine yards – everything the tool set of a serial killer, quite frankly… This is a experience that shouldn’t be missed; so, watch it. It’s insanely awesome.