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Ben Austwick [Film Festival 09.01.10] Australia movie review horror

Year: 2009
Directors: Sean Byrne
Writers: Sean Byrne
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Ben Austwick
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Australia was well represented at Frightfest this year, with Primal and Red Hill both popular films offering differing but nonetheless successful styles. The crowd's noisy appreciation was saved for a late night screening of The Loved Ones though, a gory horror rollercoaster that while maybe a little crude and predictable is perfect for the horror festival circuit.

Brent is the high school heart throb, a cool but troubled young man asked to the high school dance by mousy redneck Lola. Brent of course has a girlfriend already, his casually polite rejection unwittingly condemning him to a terrible fate, as he is kidnapped and tortured by the unhinged but resourceful Lola with the help of her doting father.

Robin McLeavy's brilliant portrayal of Lola is at the heart of The Loved Ones' success. Overcome by saccharine fantasies of love and the sourness of constant rejection – neatly summed up by her repeated playing of Kasey Chambers' naïve pop song “Am I Not Pretty Enough?” - Lola's passion has turned into hate, and Brent suffers mercilessly at her hands, tied to a chair at the dinner table as Lola's father watches on. Her mad girl act is strangely sexy (though maybe that's just me) even as she threatens to bite off Brent's penis, and a certain sympathy for this deranged character adds complexity to what is usually a straightforward baddie role.

The colours, kitsch and humour are part of an established camp tradition in Australian cinema, The Loved Ones owing more than a nod to Muriel's Wedding as well as obvious influences like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Its gaudy world of pink décor and even pinker dresses sets the gore off nicely when it comes, in the sort of scenes that have a festival crowd laughing and cheering as they wind their predictable path to the end. In a film like this familiarity just isn't a problem though and is possibly even to be welcomed, the horror fans' equivalent of comfort food, a satisfying gore fest that knows full well just how silly it is.

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Anonymous (11 years ago) Reply

-saw this last year at tiff, and really enjoyed it- great pacing , funny spots, good gore, and an incredibly stirring theme song that added to the main characters psyche.
4 outa 5 stars.

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