For pretty much as long as I can remember, I have lived in the past. My ears were always filled with the likes of Blondie and The Runaways and my DVD player was lucky if it saw a movie that was released anytime in the 21st Century. Don’t get me wrong, I tried the new stuff, I just didn’t like it as much as the old 1970s/80s stuff. This all changed however when I saw 2009’s The Loved Ones.
Written and directed by Sean Byrne, this Australian prom night horror packed a surprisingly bigger punch than I think anyone quite realised it would- including myself…I cannot lie, I only agreed to watch it when co-editor Luke suggested it because the main character looks suspiciously like a teenage Johnny Depp. Yes, yes, everyone swoon.
The story started like so many others and I almost heaved a long sigh at the banality of the opening scene where our main character, Brent Mitchell (Xavier Samuel), swerves his car to avoid a ghostly figure in the middle of the road and ends up writing off his car against a tree and killing his father whilst doing so. Like so many other typecast parents, Brent’s mother never quite forgives him and he turns to sex, drugs, booze and metal. His only saving grace and escape from his issues and self-loathing, is his beautiful girlfriend, Holly, whom he intends to take to the prom.
The similarities to She’s All That (or some other 90s chick flick) end there, and thankfully only take up about five minutes, when dear Brent gets kidnapped of the side of a mountain and wakes up tied to a chair in a dining room complete with mirror ball and prom banners. Queue incest, extreme gore, cannibalism and some bloody good acting.
Yes, the plot isn’t exactly ‘thick’ and, bar the story-setting at the beginning, it’s mostly shot in one location, but in this case the simple, uncomplicated plot allows the film to play to Byrne’s strengths – blissfully dark and painfully brutal. Running at just 84 minutes long, The Loved Ones had me screaming at the screen, praying that poor Brent would make it through. Hit after hit, Byrne was ruthless in his writing and my guts were clenched for the full second half of the film.
Now normally I’m not big on the gore and that’s not because I’m squeamish, believe me, if I was I would have had to turn this film off before it even began (the power drill scene is coming to mind now), there’s just something I don’t rate about being sick just to be sick and then never quite pulling it off. Refreshingly, the movie more than pulls it off! It rips it off like a bloody great plaster. It’s clever, it’s well shot, the acting is sublime (Where did Robin McLeavy come from?! Actually amazing). It is just brilliant, absolutely, fantastically brilliant – it is just a shame that so few newly released movies cannot seem to capture me the way this movie did.
I could honestly rant on about this movie until the cows come home, I loved it that much, but I won’t ruin your appetite for it and I don’t want to spoil any of the suprises that Byrne has up his sleeve. JUST GO AND SEE IT!
I’ll leave you on this suitably eerie note…
Video sourced from YouTube
And of course the trailer…
Video sourced from Youtube