Saturday, June 02, 2012

The Loved Ones - Review

Don 't make the mistake of renting "The Loved One" thinking you're getting this Aussie horror pic.  "The Loved One" (sans "s") is a not particularly funny 60's black comedy.  Only available on U.K. blu-ray, "The Loved Ones" (plural) is a harrowing psychos-doing-awful-things-to-victims from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre school of filmmaking.

MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD

Poor High School student Brent is having a tough go of it.  His dad died in a car accident when driver Brent swerved to avoid a bloodied dude standing in the middle of the road.  Six months later, Brent's getting on with life and preparing for a school dance.  Strange girl Lola asks Brent to take her to the dance, but he's already got a date.  Unfortunately, Lola and her equally deranged father don't take "no" for an answer, and pretty soon poor Brent finds himself in a desperate situation.  Actually, desperate situations (plural like the title!  Ha ha ha)...

Reverse the usual sadistic situation (woman tormented by crazy men) and that's basically "The Loved Ones", but done with a bit more style and panache than usual.  Brent struggles through a diabolically bizarre situation involving hammers, power drills and table cutlery while his friends (more loved ones) gradually catch on that something very bad has happened.  The film admirably raises the bar during Brent's travails, while offering winks and nods toward movies like "Evil Dead" and "Chainsaw."

For reasons I don't quite understand, Brent's terrible situation is intercut with a semi-comedic story of his friend taking a messed-up goth chick to the school dance, where subdued, inappropriate hijinks ensue.  There are also moments that suggest older (non-psycho) fathers find it difficult to deal with extremely sexual teenage daughters, which, again, doesn't exactly feel like "the point", but what do I know?

And I was pleased that the movie provides a genuine ending.  No spoilers here, just a grateful acknowledgement, since movies that end with a fade-to-black at some terrible moment are just cheating. 

Another interesting thing, judging by the credits, is that this film appears to have been partially funded by whatever passes for the Australian film board.  I'm trying to imagine the kerfuffle if a similarly gruesome project were partially funded by a U.S. arts organization.   I believe this is going to have a theatrical release in the U.S. this Summer, it's a pretty harrowing experience and I suspect seeing it big screen would augment that...

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