Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Loved Ones

Yesterday, I popped The Loved Ones into my PS3 for a watch and I must say, it kept me on edge throughout.

In the past year or so, I had heard of this movie that many horror sites have held in high regard. But to avoid contaminating my mind with opinions—both good and bad—from other movie reviews, I dodged them all until finally getting this flick in the mail from by beloved Netflix account.

I’m actually glad I avoided all references, as well as checking it out on IMDb, because I found out right away that it was an Aussie film. Now, generally I have an open mind about watching films, both foreign and domestic, but I tend to steer away from transcontinental movies. I don’t know…I guess it throws me off, hearing the accents, seeing the obvious non-American landscapes, noticing the steering wheel on the right side instead of the left…I really don’t know. I’ve felt this way before, only to enjoy the films nonetheless. Sometimes, knowing that the films are foreign—but heard they were great films—I’ll just keep them in my Netflix queue, passing them up with other, American, films. When I finally decide to watch them, I enjoy them thoroughly.

And that was the case with The Loved Ones.

The film opens with Brent (Xavier Samuel of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) and his father, driving along a road, seeming to have a good relationship. Suddenly, there’s a young man on the road, bloodied and walking like a zombie, right in the center. Brent swerves to miss the young man, only to smash into a tree.

The film goes on after that, showing a more somber Brent as we find out his father died in that crash. He seems distant and dark, only coming out of his trance-like states for his girlfriend, Holly (Victoria Thaine). He seems to only keep attachment with one friend, Jamie (Richard Wilson) and not much else. He broods in his room, listening to metal music and doesn’t do much else that doesn’t involve hurting himself (he carries a blade around his neck and we later see scars on his body from cutting) or wanting death (we see him climbing a cliff and hang there, wanting to drop).

As prom season is approaching, Brent’s friend, Jamie, wants to ask the dark and elusive Mia to the upcoming event. She actually agrees to, setting the subplot on its way. Brent is left standing at his locker as Jamie walks away and is startled to see a dark-haired girl standing next to him. She asks him to the prom, but is turned down as Brent explains, in short, that he’s already going with his girlfriend, Holly. He walks off, leaving this girl look sad and rejected, and you almost feel sorry for her…until you see what happens later in this film.

The second act of this movie is reminiscent of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, where the heroine is held captive in the house, and that's what happens to Brent, because a lot of weird stuff goes on once we get there, including larynx paralyzing injections, use of hammers and knives, and of course the crude attempt of a homemade lobotomy. Around this time, I was hanging on the edge of my seat, and really feeling for our protagonist.

Although this is a short review (to avoid any spoilers), my final “bit” is this: The Loved Ones is definitely a simple story that easily followed along and understood. However, if there’s one thing I can complain about is the subplot involving Brent’s friend, Jamie, and what goes on during and after the prom. I thought he was going to tie into everything that was going on with Brent, but he really doesn’t. It sort of does, when you find out how his prom date is involved in the story, but I thought maybe they could’ve had a better view of that. Besides that, though, this film was very good and had solid performances throughout. I highly recommend the film if you’re a horror fan like me.