If John Waters and John Hughes ever conceived the idea for a modern day “Misery,” we’d essentially get this Australian horror gem known as “The Loved Ones,” a movie that’s centered around an impending prom and two rather demented love stories that concern fractured love and new relationships. After accidentally crashing in to a tree Brent kills his father and six months later is a train wreck committed to smoking pot and putting himself in as much danger as possible. He also makes a hobby out of cutting himself and inflicting pain.
Brent is a young man haunted by his accident and inflicted with self-blame and pity that spreads to his still mourning mother. On the day before the prom Brent is asked by an unusual female classmate painted in pink who pleads with Brent to take her. After politely turning her down, Brent is kidnapped and forced in to a scenario where the pretty but absolutely demented Lola proceeds in torturing, tormenting and maiming Brent and re-enacting her very own prom which involve insane scenarios with the help of her subservient father who bends to his daughter’s will and takes pride in watching her cut in to her prom date. “The Loved Ones” is something of a dark comedy, and one that strives and setting a maddening tone where the entire film feels like one ninety minute nightmare that Brent can not escape from. Enduring the obvious incestuous relationship between the psychotic Lola and her father, Brent has to endure some grueling bits of revenge including being forced to pee, being nailed to the floor and so many more methods of cruelty that will keep the audience cringing and cowering behind their partner.
What “The Loved Ones” spotlights is the unbridled and unspoken romance and dares to ask the audience if perhaps we’re one of the people out there with our very own secret admirer willing to do whatever it takes to prevent being rejected. Lola is clearly a petulant amoral child who keeps her parents on a tight leash and makes horrible demands of them, and enlists their help in keeping Brent strapped to his chair to soak in whatever horrible pain she inflicts upon him. Director Sean Byrne is of course never afraid to get wacky and off the wall as we watch Lola become hysterical at her own crowning of prom queen, as well as Lola and her father’s attempts to fish Brent out of a tree. On the flipside there is Brent’s friend Sac also experiencing a tumultuous prom date with the school Goth that is quite demented but not as violent or cringe-inducing.
Robin McLeavy gives a shocking performance as this utterly sadistic young girl who takes an almost sexual thrill out of torturing the boys she fancies, and even goes so far as to show off a photo album of her past victims. McLeavy surely goes for the throat and gives the absolute stand out performance making one truly disgusting and horrific villainess. “The Loved Ones” eventually transforms in to one truly disturbing fractured fairy tale with cannibals, mutilation, and a mesmerizing final scene that paints director Sean Byrne as a director to look for. While no masterpiece, “The Loved Ones” is most definitely a horror gem waiting to be explored with top notch performances, an utterly demented story, and compelling direction that paints this as the “Misery” for the modern age. I highly suggest checking this out if you’re lucky enough to stumble across it.