Brent (Xavier Samuel) has never recovered from the car crash that killed his father: the crash that he was responsible for. His only solace is his loving girlfriend Holly (Victoria Thaine). But there’s another girl who yearns to comfort Brent, the quietest girl in school Lola (Robin McLeavy), and when he turns down her invitation to the high school dance he enters a nightmare beyond imagining.
Xavier Samuels does an excellent job of making you feel every emotion that his character is going through. Without much dialogue, he manages to convey most of his pain in silence and through body languauge. His performance contrasts well with Princess and his journey makes you feel exhausted by the end of the film. Robin McLeavy is amazing as Princess (Lola). Not only does she make us really want her to get her commupance, she also has an underlying sense of menace that I’ve not seen in an Australian film before. Princess is a bonafide horror villain in the traditional sense, as in it’s not she says with her mouth that’s the most threatening, it’s what her eyes say that makes you believe that her evil nature stems from her very core.
On the surface, it would be very easy to use catchphrases like, gorenography or torture porn to describe the horrific events that occur in The Loved Ones. That would be lazy and incorrect. While the film has it’s more than fair share of the red stuff, a film is only as good as the characters and without some well plotted tension and pace, a story such as presented here would have been a sorry affair.
Thankfully Sean Byrne has crafted a well-told, emotionally involved character piece that just so happens to feature an exceptional cast and looks fantastic. He, and his crew have managed to capture the banality of suburban/semi-rural Australia in a very unique and original way.
Others have compared this film to Pretty in Pink meets Wolf Creek. I think a more apt description would be Muriel’s Wedding meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with a little splash of Carrie thrown in for good measure.
The rest of the cast is fantastic and it was good to see that although there are many archetypal characters in the film, they never turn into stereotypes.
‘The Loved Ones’ is rated MA15+ and starts today in cinemas across Australia.
I give this film 4 1/2 out of 5