If there’s a film THE LOVED ONES most resembles, it’s the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. (Except with an equally terrifying power drill.) It’s got a creepy underlying sense of dread, there’s a seriously screwed up family dynamic and most of the movie feels like an extended version of the infamous TCM dinner scene. It’s also the textbook definition of escalation, with the events getting crazier and crazier as things move along, until the final frame simply exists in a complete daze of what came before.
Robin McLeavy’s Lola is one of the great onscreen psychos to hit the genre in quite some time. When the “Princess” kidnaps Brent, the boy who turned her down, your first thought is that she’s just a lonely, ignored girl who finally snapped. However, after you get to meet her insane father (and their lobotomized houseguest Bright Eyes), it quickly becomes clear that the entire family is completely psychotic and you’re in for one hell of a ride.
While there might be undercurrents of dark, dark comedy now and then (mostly at the hands of Brent’s awkward stoner friend), THE LOVED ONES is still a very serious film. As Dad throw’s Lola and her abducted guest the prom from Hell, there’s some crazy suspenseful scenes and the movie continues to go to places you don’t expect or at least hope it won’t. (Let’s just say the title references something I was not expecting.) The unrated version on this DVD definitely earns its stripes, with plenty of hard-to-watch stuff that will delight genre fans and gorehounds. Occasionally, it borders on “torture porn” but there’s much more to this movie than that, with a lot of the most disturbing plot and character work happening under the surface.
At barely 80 minutes, Sean Byrne's film doesn’t overstay its welcome. It gets to the point and makes it very convincingly, thanks to the fantastic performances by Xavier Samuel (whose Brent doesn’t get to speak for most of the film), John “Daddy” Brumpton and McLeavy. Her work as Lola is seriously great, creating a character that will be memorable to horror fans for years to come.
Interviews: You get three lighthearted one-on-one chats to balance out the intensity of the flick, about 8 minutes each: Robin McLeavy (Lola) claims she had no interest in horror before making this film as she’s too easily scared. Xavier Samuel (Brent) warns that the moral of the story is if the quiet girl at school asks you out, say yes. And VFX Supervisor Justin Dix excitedly discusses the make-up and prosthetics work, as well as some of the more bloody scenes.
Extra Tidbit: To prepare for the role of Lola, Robin McLeavy watched MISERY, NATURAL BORN KILLERS and a lot of Tarantino, as well as researched serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.