31 Days of Reviews: The Loved Ones (2009)

After rejecting Lola’s proposal to the dance, Brent finds himself in a world of hurt at the most screwed up “school dance” imaginable.

I found this movie on a playlist that my friend Jason recommended to me. The Loved Ones was the most recent of the films on the list, so I chose to watch it. It’s currently available for free, in full, on YouTube, curtesy of Paramount Pictures.

To start this review, the first thing I’m going to say is that this is a torture movie. I’m not usually into that type of horror film. I’m more of a supernatural horror gal myself. I tend to be squeamish when it comes to blood, pain, and needles. The Loved Ones has all of that and then some.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 8.02.00 PM

While The Loved Ones is a torture film, it definitely sets itself apart from all other torture films I’ve seen. It’s an odd combination of torture horror and teen movies. I like to use the example of Hostel + She’s All That. This movie has some of the most cruel and unusual punishments I’ve seen used in film, and what I enjoyed most about it was that it’s not always in your face. Sometimes The Loved Ones lets your imagination take over and only shows you the aftermath. As a squeamish person, I liked that fact.

The main antagonist Lola (Robin McLeavy) is definitely something to be touched upon here. This actress had me completely freaked out. I hated her, but I was afraid of her, and I was amazed by her at the same time. When she’s first introduced in the movie, she appears to be a timid and awkward high school girl. The creep factor escalates as she’s shown stalking her crush and escalates even more when we’re introduced to her family. The incestuous relationship between Lola and her father is ridiculously disgusting and creepy when paired with her “normal” looking room, filled with pink, frills, and celebrity magazines. The movie only continues to amp up the creep factor with every new look into her family dynamic. Daddy’s little girl has been getting her way for a long, long time.

As for the main protagonist Brent (Xavier Samuel), his early backstory reminds me of the beginning of Disturbia. After a day spent with his father, the two are in an accident which results in the father’s death. Brent carries this weight with him throughout the movie, blaming himself and thinking that his mother blames him for his father’s death. His current state after the accident is not the best. I would definitely offer a warning for anyone who is triggered by self harm because Brent definitely shows these tendencies. He wears a necklace with a razor on it, which he actively uses to cut himself at one point. He has scars from past instances of cutting, and he exhibits reckless, suicidal behavior. In a twisted way, his conflict with Lola definitely will give him a new take on his life.

Throughout the movie, there are definitely instances of some good cinematography. Once we get into the thick of the story, we start using more traditional camera angles, but the ideas are still there. I saw a lot of really creative ideas shown with camera movement during the movie, especially when shooting outside. Alternate camera angles also came in handy when the film was avoiding showing the full blow of the torture. They needed to keep it interesting.

One thing that I will say I didn’t fully understand was a particular aspect of the story. The movie would routinely alternate between Brent and Lola and Brent’s friend from high school with his date. The movie does explain how the date is semi-relevant to the story, but I didn’t feel that it was entirely necessary. Looking back on it, the only reason I could think of including those scenes in the story would be to juxtapose that semi-normal dance experience with the twisted nature of the other. If not that, then I don’t really know what purpose it served. The character’s stories never really got to intersect, so the connection is completely lost on me.

Overall, even though I don’t usually like torture films, the fact that this one is different from what I’m used to definitely set it apart from other films of its kind. If you’re exceptionally squeamish, I may still advise avoiding it because it is a torture film, but if that’s something you’re into, I’d definitely advise checking it out.

Check out the trailer below!

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