Monday, December 31, 2012

The Loved Ones (2009)

Heartbroken over his father’s death, Brent (Xaiver Samuel) hides his pain by cutting himself in the torso, and smoking marijuana. Brent’s overprotective mother, Carla (Suzi Dougherty)  tries to provide comfort, but Brent fights his mother’s ongoing mission to shield him from the real world.

Distant and anti-social, Brent finds solace in his girlfriend, Holly (Victoria Thaine), as they prepare to go to the senior prom together. One day, Brent receives a random and unexpected request for a date to the prom. A shy and nervous Lola (Robin McLeavy) asks Brent to the prom, but Brent politely refuses.

In an attempt to clear his head before the prom, Brent spends some time alone at a secret hideaway. But Lola’s father attacks him from behind, and he kidnaps Brent. Brent awakes tied to a chair in Lola’s house. Lola’s father or “Daddy” (John Brumpton) has set up a prom-like atmosphere. Lola is the Princess, and whether he likes it or not, Brent is the King. Brent has to play along with Lola’s prom, or he will suffer a slow and agonizing death.

The entire cast is spot on. McLeavy is the perfect psycho, Brumpton is believable, as the deranged and loyal father,  and Samuel nails the Brent character. He’s a broken high school student, who can’t let go of the past, and for me, Samuel was the highlight of this cast. And she doesn’t speak a word in this film, but you can’t ignore Anne Scott-Pendlebury’s (Bright Eyes/Lola’s mother) unsettling presence.

Director Sean Byrne spares no expense for gory violence. Lola literally drills a hole in Brent’s head, Brent’s feet are nailed to the floor, and Daddy threatens to nail Brent’s penis to the chair, when Brent refuses to pee inside a glass. If you’re looking for lots of blood and guts, The Loved Ones won’t disappoint you at all.

I don’t have any major complaints about Byrne’s directing, but his screenplay? That’s another issue. Why, and I mean WHY in the name of all things holy did Lola and Daddy torture Brent? Lola is a fragile young girl, that’s obvious, but fuck, you have to really hate someone to kidnap and torture them. Sorry, but the “you won’t go with me to the prom!” stuff is not good enough, and I couldn’t buy into Lola’s motivations for torturing Brent.

Plus, the story takes a wild turn towards the end. After labeling Brent a “frog,” Lola decides her father is the true love of her life? That’s right, so after torturing this poor kid, she suddenly DECIDES she’s in love with her father. And Byrne cuts away from it at after a distraction from Brent, but Lola was clearly about to kiss her father on the lips during the King and Queen dance.

And to add another bizarre layer to this story, Lola and her father apparently have a habit of kidnapping and torturing young guys/potential prom dates. Beneath the floor in her house, Lola has a secret pit that houses mutilated teenage guys (or “frogs“). Also, after suffering through the torture from Lola and Daddy, the mutilated teens become bloodthirsty cannibals? Again, WHY? Can anyone else think of a legit reason to hold cannibals in Lola’s house? I tried to think of an answer, but I couldn’t come up with one.

Plus, Byrne adds this fucking stupid and pointless storyline with two other high school kids. The guy is a shy and uptight pothead, and his date is a depressed and creepy goth chick. Byrne WASTED so much time with both characters, because they don’t serve a purpose for the main story arc.

The Loved Ones is loaded with sickening bloody gore and sadistic torture scenes, and the bloody stuff is more than capable of bringing a few squirms out of you, but the story is an unfocused mess. An illogical kidnapping and torture storyline devolves into a brief and creepy incest love story between Lola and Daddy. And it didn’t work for me, but Byrne tries to compensate for the shabby story with an endless amount of gross-out moments.

I honestly can’t understand the praise for this film. The Loved Ones has a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the vast majority of horror fans worship this piece of shit. Don’t buy into the hype, because The Loved Ones is not a modern day horror classic at all.

Final Rating: 1/10

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