The Loved Ones

I don’t know what’s going on in Australia, but they have some of the most horrific horror movies ever. I’ve avoided this one for years, but gave it a shot. It’s an intense experience. Not for the faint of heart.

The movie opens with a teen and his dad on the boys first time driving. His name is Brent and when a bloody figure steps into the road he swerved the car and crashed into a tree killing his father.

Brent struggles with guilt and pain when he is asked to the school dance by the quiet strange girl in school. He turns her down saying he’s going with his girlfriend Holly. After school Brent is kidnapped and held hostage by the girl and her father who are far more twisted and malicious than you could ever imagine.

They tie him to a chair and torture him. She wants a dream prom and he’s going to give it to her no matter what. It quickly becomes apparent how truly deranged this family is. It goes way deeper than just kidnapping and torture.

On the other side of the story we have Brent’s mom and girlfriend trying desperately to find him. And his best friend having a classic and weird prom night with the daughter of the local police chief. This provides a light counterpoint to the horrors on display.

The deeply twisted psychology of the family is even scarier than the torture. Torture had never been scary to me. The anticipation of the torture can be suspenseful, but the act itself is just gross. This movie depicts minimal torture. It focuses on the people who inflict the torture. The people who can do these things while smiling are terrifying.

That said this movie is gross and should not be viewed by anyone with a weak stomach.

The performances worked well for me. The balance of light and dark worked. The main characters journey worked. The premise and the depths of awful on display are pretty bleak and horrifying. It’s not a movie I’ll watch again.

It’s not my cup of tea, but I see the craft on display. I appreciate the well executed script and gruesome effects work. I would only recommend this to those who love this kind of movie not for anyone else. A-

Spoilers territory

Brent is over one with guilt after his fathers death. He engaged in self harm with a razor he wears around his neck and smokes a lot of marijuana.

He is taken and wakes up tied to a chair. he’s wearing a tuxedo and is facing Lola wearing a prom dress and Lola’s dad Eric. Also sitting at the table is a lobotomized woman they call bright eyes.

They begin by injected drain cleaner into his larynx. This destroys his voice box and leaves him with a horrible raspy screeching sound that will haunt me. They proceed to go through the prom night rituals, photos and dancing. He is force fed food and threatened when he refuses.

Lola carves a giant heart into his chest. Thankfully, this happens off screen. Brent uses his razor blade to cut himself free, and he tries to escape. I find this interesting as the instrument he carried for self harm becomes a tool he uses to escape harm.

He doesn’t get far however and he is soon tied up in his chair with his feet nailed to the floor. Sadly we do see the nailing.

Lola and Eric reminisce with a picture scrap book of the dozens of boys they’ve done this to in the past. For each big dance, Lola picks a boy to kidnap and torture. Brent recognizes one boy as the bloody person who stepped in front of Brent’s car and caused the accident which killed his father.

Lola realized that none of these boys were the one she really wanted because all along she really wanted her dad. He apparently wanted her too and they dance together.

Eric then opens a secret hatch in the floor which leads to a dark cellar. We hear the same screeching cries that Brent has been making amplified from the cellar. We realize that they have a collection of people down there.

Lola is tired of Eric and decides it’s time to finish him off. They grab a drill and put a hole in his forehead. Just enough to get through the skull. They then boil water and intend to pour it into the hole and cook his brain.

And it’s at the point that I’m wondering what is wrong with Australia! This is truly heinous and shocking. This is awful. But I kept watching because of the balance between Brent’s ordeal and the ordinary prom night his friend Jaime is experiencing. This balance elevates the film from torture porn garbage.

Brent’s story finally comes to its climax when Brent, fed up with the pain and torment, uses his razor to attack Eric. Brent breaks free and Eric stumbles into the cellar where he is set upon by the zombified prom dates. The horror of this is believable.

Brent is thrown in the cellar as well. Lola is distraught at her fathers death and decides to murder Brent’s mom and girlfriend. A police officer finally arrives and discovers Brent. However, like any first responder in a horror movie, he is killed.

However, his death allows Brent to escape. Lola is on the road to Brent’s house. She encounters Holly and attacks her. Brent takes the dead officers car and speeds after Lola. Finally catching up to them he runs over Lola and rescues Holly. They return to Brent’s mom and begin the healing.

The movie is horrific and hard to watch. However it builds dread well. It doesn’t feel exploitative. It has a satisfying conclusion, and it never falls into nihilism. I could absolutely see this movie becoming a nihilistic nightmare. Instead it tells a compelling story and others all the grotesqueries imaginable.

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