The torture subgenre of horror has never much appealed to me. I enjoy my horror movies as a child enjoys his visit at Six Flags. Much like the child, I want to go on as many rollercoasters as possible without getting sick. But torture horror is something else. Torture horror is like being on a ferris wheel and being stuck at the very top for two hours. After a while, you just want to get off of the ride. It is with apprehension that I went into the horror film of the moment in Australia, Sean Byrne’s “The Loved Ones”, a twisted tale of love, revenge, and prom.
In order to avoid a ghostly figure in the road, high school senior Brent Mitchell wraps his car around a tree, killing his father. Constantly confronted by his mother’s emotional collapse after the accident, Brent escapes into a marijuana fueled world of loud metal music to block the pain and guilt. Dejected and out of sorts, he has a shot at happiness with his girlfriend Holly, a grounded, caring girl with drop dead good looks, a dream date for the high school prom. But his plans are thwarted by a disturbing series of events that take place under a mirrored disco ball, involving pink satin, glitter, syringes, nails, power drills and a secret admirer. Brent has become the prom king at a macabre, sadistic event where he is the entertainment.
It turns out some girls don’t like being told no and some girls are as bad shit crazy as his captive, Lola. Lola is played by Robin McLeavy in a performance that simply must be seen to be believed. Many actresses would be afraid of going this far with the role but McLeavy is clearly having a ball here. The torture, the prom, the glitter…everything in her mind has been done FOR Brent and not TO him, if that makes any sense. Speaking of Brent, this is the kind of movie that you just want to give a hug to actor Xavier Samuel once it is over. The things this guy has to go through in order to survive the night and cope with Lola’ “love” is heartbreaking and it is clear that he will never be the same person again. Nonetheless, I don’t want you to think this a dreary and depressing movie about torture and kidnapping. The movie has a wicked sense of dark humor as well that is perfectly aided by Byrne’s strong direction and screenplay. The fact that the demented father and daughter keep screaming at Brent “WE CAN’T HEAR YOU!” left a twisted smile on my face. Definitely not for everyone, you know if this movie is for you. If it is indeed for you, welcome to your new favorite horror movie.