The Bottom Line
A brutal and darkly comedic deconstruction of standard torture porn fare.
- Great acting, particularly Robin McLeavy as one of the most memorable horror villains of the year
- Gruesome and inventive torture scenes
- Remains grounded with real emotions
- B-story has no impact
- Few DVD special features
- Starring Xavier Samuel, Robin McLeavy, Victoria Thaine, Jessica McNamee, Richard Wilson, John Brumpton, Andrew S. Gilbert, Suzi Dougherty
- Directed by Sean Byrne
- Rated NR
- DVD Release Date: September 11, 2012
Guide Review - ‘The Loved Ones’ DVD Review
Six months after Brent’s father died in a car accident in which Brent was driving, the teen has turned into a burnout who cuts himself with a razor blade to ease his pain. His haggard state, however, doesn’t phase classmate Lola, who asks him to the dance celebrating the end of the school year. When Brent politely declines, saying he’s taking his girlfriend Holly, he unwittingly sets himself up for a world of pain.
You see, Lola is a psychopath and a sadist who habitually teams with her doting (and equally warped) dad to kidnap and torture potential “princes” who turn out to be frogs. Before he knows it, Brent is next in line, and as he struggles to free himself from his tormenters, Holly and his still-grieving mother try to figure out where he is before it’s too late.
The Loved Ones is a breath of fresh air for the so-called “torture porn” sub-genre of horror movies, one that turns the typical scenario of the teen girl being held captive and turns it on its head, turning the standard victim into the atypical assailant. In doing so, it adds a macabre sense of humor to the otherwise disturbing proceedings (perhaps the most brutal cinematic torture in recent memory outside of Martyrs), played up by the wonderfully warped performance of Robin McLeavy as spoiled daddy’s girl Lola.
At its core, though, The Loved Ones can be seen as a heartfelt drama about the loss of, well, loved ones and how family members deal with grief. As such, the mixture of tones can be a bit tricky, but first-time director Sean Byrne handles it all with a steady hand. His only glaring misstep is as a writer, with his B-story about Brent’s friend Jamie going to the dance with goth gal Mia never really impacting the main plot; it could’ve been removed and nothing would’ve changed. That said, I look forward to whatever insanity Byrne has up his sleeve next.