I love going into films completely oblivious. Granted, a lot of the times the results aren’t pretty, but if you’re going in with no knowledge, and no expectations, it’s hard to be that disappointed. Sometimes though you discover a real hidden gem. That is the case with “The Loved Ones”. This is the type of film that one could only hope would get a theatrical release. Sadly, it’s gone mostly ignored, and will be dumped straight to disc in most territories, while empty headed crap like “Paranormal Activity” rocks the box office.
“The Loved Ones” opens with our main character, Brent, played by Xavier Samuel, as he’s driving around with his father. Soon, what appears to be a bloodied, half naked teenage boy runs out in the middle of the road, causing Brent to veer off the road, resulting in an accident that takes the life of his father, and leaves him an emotional mess. Brent feels responsible for the death of his father, and his fruitcake of a mother doesn’t make matters any better. Brent appears to be coming to grips with his life in a teen angst sort of way, with a super hot, sex-crazed girlfriend to help him through the dark times. Tonight is the night of a big dance at school, and Brent is soon approached by “the weird girl” in school to ask him to escort her to the event. Having a girlfriend, Brent turns her down. This turns out to be the worst mistake of his life.
One complaint that seems to be most prevalent in regards to this film, is that there is a subplot involving Brent’s friend taking a disturbed “goth” chick to the prom. People seem to think it’s unnecessary to the plot. The reality is, this aspect of the film works well on different levels. On one hand, it serves as a device to drop the audiences guard, grounding them in reality so that when the insanity begins, it’s that much more effective. On the other hand, it serves well to tie the entire film together. It is very much necessary, and has a very important role to the overall plot of the movie. It also happens to be very well executed, and a blast to watch.
The acting in “The Loved Ones” is outstanding. Robin McLeavy, in particular puts in a career making performance. The performance of the actor that would play Lola would make or break this film. McLeavy is so convincing as a psychopath that she actually gives this film a lot more credibility than it would have had otherwise. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a remarkable film in it’s own right. There are some superb production values, solid performances across the board, and an awesome soundtrack. I just feel the main thing that needs to be noted here is Robin McLeavy’s performance. This may sound a tad hyperbolic, but I really don’t feel there’s been such an engaging performance as a psychopath since Anthony Hopkins in “The Silence Of The Lambs”.
To say the very least, “The Loved Ones” is brutal as hell. The special effects are spectacular. Several moments in the film made a seasoned gorehound like myself cringe. Trying to teeter the line here, so as not to spoil anything, but an idea straight from the disturbed mind of Jefferey Dahmer was implemented here just to show an extra level of insanity, and it really added not only to the gore factor of the flick, but the overall creep factor as well. The effects, from what I could tell were all handled practically, and as mentioned above, some of them are absolutely cringe-worthy.
It’s a crying shame that this flick will go mostly unnoticed. Film making like this is a rarity in today’s market, which is mostly over-saturated with quick cash-ins and half-assed attempts at monetizing big name films from the past, and gobbling up the next popular foreign film for Americanization. “The Loved Ones” is gruesome, sexy, highly polished, and twisted as hell.