The Loved Ones Movie Review
Ah, prom. A time for memories. And friends. And high school girls in hot dresses. Also a time for power drills to the head, torture and insane stalkers. Just when you thought the torture porn subgenre was dead, along comes The Loved Ones, an Australian horror film that is simultaneously forgettable and satisfyingly screwed up.
The Loved Ones is about a young man who is kidnapped by a crazy schoolmate and her obsessive father and subsequently tortured at their remote farmhouse. Their own screwed-up brand of prom involves drilling holes in his head, bolting his feet to the floor and other disturbing things. That doesn't even cover the brain-boiled zombies that reside in their basement.
The Loved Ones is a quirky movie that vacillates between creative and unnecessary. It's never entirely clear what writer/director Sean Byrne wants to do with the film. A lot of the torture stuff is stale and forgettable, remnants of a subgenre that has long since run its course. But the people doing the torture - namely the psychotic character Lola, played deliciously by Robin McLeavy - are messed up enough to add a dose of inventiveness to it all. Unlike in some torture-oriented movies where the villains are so detached you really don't care what happens to them (I'd argue even Jigsaw falls into this category), I really wanted the bad guys to get what they deserved.
But is the movie supposed to be funny? I'm still not entirely sure. I didn't laugh, but the fact that Byrne juxtaposes the torture sequences with a parallel story about another guy who takes a goth chick to the prom - with no real connection to the main plot - suggests that he was trying to highlight just how good a normal night at prom can be, and just how crummy the lead protagonist's is. And when the brain-boiled "zombies" show up... it's hard not to appreciate the zany film Byrne has assembled.
In the end, however, The Loves Ones offers little new. Byrne adds some doses of color, but ultimately his film is like dozens that have come before it: someone gets captured, they get tortured in weird and twisted ways, and that person either escapes or doesn't escape. For that reason, it's hard to recommend The Loved Ones to anyone but diehard torture porn fans, and the number of such fans have been dwindling for years.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.