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Review: The Loved Ones

Jun. 1, 2012by: Chris Bumbray

Plot: Brent (Xavier Samuel) is a teenager who's been badly shaken by the recent death of his father. A shell of his former self, and prone to self abuse, the one bright spot in his life is his lovely girlfriend, Holly (Victoria Thaine). This is bad news for Lola (Robin McLeavy)- the school misfit with a king-size crush on Brent. When he politely declines her invitation to the school prom- Lola and her father abduct Brent, and submit him to a cruel evening of torture. Brent's about to find out that whatever Lola wants- Lola gets!

Review: I had zero expectations for THE LOVED ONES when I saw it at the Fantasia Film Festival- way back in 2010. The plot outline made it sound like some kind of Australian, teenage rip-off of AUDITION. Due to the enthusiastic recommendations of some of the fest's programmers, I decided to give it a shot, and boy am I glad I did! THE LOVED ONES has to be one of the best pure horror flicks I've seen in ages.

Nobody does balls-to-the-wall like the Aussies. For proof of that, you need only to check out the recent Aussie-sploitation doc, NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD. THE LOVED ONES feels like a bit of a throw back to those old, classic Aussie horror flicks, like ROAD GAMES, or RAZORBACK. We even get a couple of car chases on long, desolate outback roads, which is a true Aussie hallmark of the genre if ever there was one!

Another good way to describe THE LOVED ONES would be to call it a psychotic re-imagining of PRETTY IN PINK. Come to think of it, the villainous Lola (destined to become a horror icon if this ever gets the wide distribution it deserves), has quite a lot in common with Molly Ringwald's character in that film. They're both unpopular, shy types with a fondness for the color pink, who carry a torch for the school pretty-boy. Heck, she even has a close relationship with her father, although here, that relationship borders on incest, and is one of the creepiest things about the film. As played by McLeavy, Lola's the scariest first date you could possibly imagine. In fact, I'd say she's almost too good, as whenever I see McLeavy in the future, I'll think of her torturing poor Brent, or stalking down an endless outback road, covered in blood, carrying a knife, and singing to herself.

As her victim, Xavier Samuel brings a lot of depth to his role. He's an eminently likable guy here, and you'll be rooting for him to escape throughout out, and cheering every time he manages to strike back at Lola and her father (as was the Fantasia audience I saw this with). Samuel actually played the villain in TWILIGHT ECLIPSE. Truth be told, I hated him in that, but his performance here just proves once again that the TWILIGHT players' acting talent cannot be judged by their performances in those films alone.

Also noteworthy is the the top notch, heavily stylized cinematography, and the excellent Aussie-indie rock soundtrack. Audiences with also enjoy a comedic subplot involving Brent's best buddy, Sac (Richard Wilson), who ends up on a wild date of his own, with the school's resident hot goth chick, Mia (Jessica McNamee). To some, this subplot might seem extraneous, but it relieves the tension a bit, and gives audiences a break during the strategically placed cut-ins.

Overall, THE LOVED ONES was a gem, and it amazed me that it took two full years for this to finally see the light of day. It's a really great example of Aussie New Wave horror, and a truly memorable experience (not to mention the perfect date horror flick). I dug the heck out of it.

Source: JoBlo.com

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11:31AM on 12/07/2012

Bumbray has no idea how to rate a movie

Bumbray, going forward, if you give a movie a 8 or better, I will not see it. How you give The Loved Ones a 9 baffles me. Be realistic, it's a 4 at best. Learn how to scale a movie, dude. And get a f-cking haircut! :)
Bumbray, going forward, if you give a movie a 8 or better, I will not see it. How you give The Loved Ones a 9 baffles me. Be realistic, it's a 4 at best. Learn how to scale a movie, dude. And get a f-cking haircut! :)
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11:24AM on 12/07/2012

Bumbray has no idea how to rate a movie

Bumbray, going forward, if you give a movie a 8 or better, I will not see it. How you give The Loved Ones a 9 baffles me. Be realistic, it's a 4 at best. Learn how to scale a movie, dude. And get a f-cking haircut! :)
Bumbray, going forward, if you give a movie a 8 or better, I will not see it. How you give The Loved Ones a 9 baffles me. Be realistic, it's a 4 at best. Learn how to scale a movie, dude. And get a f-cking haircut! :)
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12:33PM on 06/01/2012
A perfect 10/10 movie for me! It's one of my top ten favourites :) Nice review, Mate!
A perfect 10/10 movie for me! It's one of my top ten favourites :) Nice review, Mate!
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+1
11:07AM on 06/01/2012
NICE CALL !! This is one of my favorite Horror flicks ever . The acting , writing , cinematography , you freakin' name it . A wonderful film , one I can highly recommend without hesitation !!
NICE CALL !! This is one of my favorite Horror flicks ever . The acting , writing , cinematography , you freakin' name it . A wonderful film , one I can highly recommend without hesitation !!
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9:54AM on 06/01/2012
Can you please provide your definition of "pure horror," Mr. Bumbray? Cause it SOUNDS like just more torture porn to me . . .
Can you please provide your definition of "pure horror," Mr. Bumbray? Cause it SOUNDS like just more torture porn to me . . .
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6:41AM on 06/01/2012

More Like A 6/10

A 9/10??!!... No way! This movie is nothing at all to write home about. It's just another torture porn horror flick. I'm willing to bet had this movie been a Hollywood high production release and not some Aussie indie film, then people would have hated it just the same as all these other weak hollywood slasher flicks. But since it's some low budget Aussie film, then people's expectations are exceeded because they're already low.

Lola is the only redeeming factor of this movie. She should
A 9/10??!!... No way! This movie is nothing at all to write home about. It's just another torture porn horror flick. I'm willing to bet had this movie been a Hollywood high production release and not some Aussie indie film, then people would have hated it just the same as all these other weak hollywood slasher flicks. But since it's some low budget Aussie film, then people's expectations are exceeded because they're already low.

Lola is the only redeeming factor of this movie. She should have been the center of the film and not Brent. And I strongly disagree with "Xavier brings depth to his character." The guy is just like any other helpless sap in any other horror flick, that makes dumb decisions when trying to get away. (If I remember correctly, the guy runs up a tree thinking that will help his situation?) Not to mention the side plot with Brent's friend Jamie, is so pointless. It has nothing to do with the main events of the film and it's a complete tangent of the main story. I seriously do not see the hype in this movie. It's almost as if people want to like the movie, so they praise it. It was a big let down in my opinion.
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6:30AM on 06/01/2012

Yes

My lovely girlfriend who lives in Perth bought this film for me on DVD over there, knowing I'm a horror nut. If you dig on great horror films, definitely seek this one out. Tidbit: The Australian DVD sleeve art can be flipped and reveals a really cool 80s stylized cover of the film.
My lovely girlfriend who lives in Perth bought this film for me on DVD over there, knowing I'm a horror nut. If you dig on great horror films, definitely seek this one out. Tidbit: The Australian DVD sleeve art can be flipped and reveals a really cool 80s stylized cover of the film.
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+1
6:23AM on 06/01/2012
I might go as far as to say this was one of the 10 best horror movies of the last decade. See it if you get the chance.
I might go as far as to say this was one of the 10 best horror movies of the last decade. See it if you get the chance.
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3:44AM on 06/01/2012
It's been on DVD in Australia for a while now and didn't get any sort of publicity like Wolf Creek did which if it's as good as you say is a shame. Australians just don't get behind home grown cinema like Americans do.
It's been on DVD in Australia for a while now and didn't get any sort of publicity like Wolf Creek did which if it's as good as you say is a shame. Australians just don't get behind home grown cinema like Americans do.
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2:42AM on 06/01/2012

Fantastic :)

So glad you liked this! I've been waiting patiently for this film to get a proper US release. Hopefully MN gets a special midnight showing or something.
So glad you liked this! I've been waiting patiently for this film to get a proper US release. Hopefully MN gets a special midnight showing or something.
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2:10AM on 06/01/2012
I wanted to see this for a long time. Good review, nice read.
I wanted to see this for a long time. Good review, nice read.
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