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Quint is disturbed (in a good way) by Australian horror flick THE LOVED ONES at SXSW!

Published at: March 20, 2010, 4:35 a.m. CST

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with another review from SXSW. This time I look at the great Aussie horror flick THE LOVED ONES.

There’s a bit of an Australian invasion going on at the moment. One of my favorites from SXSW last year was THE SQUARE by Nash Edgerton and two of the best flicks out of Sundance were ANIMAL KINGDOM (by David Michod) and HESHER (by Spencer Susser). All come from the same group of Australian filmmakers. The Square and Animal Kingdom both have a gritty noir/crime feel to them, but Hesher is more darkly fucked-up funny. Now THE LOVED ONES hits and steals the show as far as genre fare at SXSW. As far as I know Sean Byrne isn’t part of the Blue-Tongue Films crew, but he’s showing a similar talent at filmmaking. THE LOVED ONES can get written off as yet another torture film, but when you see it you’ll notice very quickly that defies those conventions. The film is about a kidnapping, but not the standard type. Imagine if Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka never got that Golden Ticket and lived poor in small town Australia and you’re on the right track. Lola (Robin McLeavy) is a very pretty girl and wouldn’t have any trouble getting dates. But she’s nucking futs and sends her creepy daddy (John Brumpton) to abduct her crushes. As we join the story Lola’s sights are on a troubled teen (Xavier Samuel). He’s got a hot girlfriend (Victoria Thaine), so he shuns poor Lola when she asks him to the school dance. So, Lola decides to throw her own dance and her daddy makes sure the object of her affection shows up. I was hooked the second Xander wakes up and meets Lola’s family. This girl is insane and that means bad times for Xander, but good times for me.

THE LOVED ONES is one of those glorious genre films where you can’t really tell how far it is willing to go or even in what direction it’s pointing, just that every step of the way you’re having a helluva time. Writer/Director Sean Byrne make a huge splash with this flick, showing great talent in pacing, working with actors, character writing and shot composition. I mention shot composition because the dude filmed the movie not just competently, but impressively. There are some flat out gorgeous shots in this low budget horror flick and even better than that incredibly inventive filmmaking. There’s a static wide shot at the end of the movie that got the audience murmuring, then laughing, then cheering. But above all else he made a fun movie that takes the story seriously and doesn’t wink at the camera. There’s real deal character work, especially with Xavier’s character as he tries to get around feeling responsible for his father’s death.

Byrne not only wrote a good script and directed a gorgeous movie, he also cast it incredibly well. Robin McLeavy goes off the rails in a “love to hate her” kind of way that reaches kitty-boiling Glenn Close levels. There’s the psycho, but then there’s also something sympathetic about her. Maybe it’s the fact that she’s shunned or that her father is so protective of her or that she’s just cute even when covered in blood and wielding a drill… I don’t know what it is, but there’s something more to her than just a nut-job with a penchant for carving hearts into boys’ chests. Another thing I loved about this movie was the slight tone shifts it had. I won’t go into any details, but there’s a moment when a basement door is opened where the movie I thought I was watching was replaced with something even better. The gore-hounds have their blood and guts and those who want more get a smartly written and shot movie to go with it. As far as I know this film doesn’t have US distribution yet. That’s crazy. This is better than most studio horror flicks I’ve seen recently and extremely marketable. Where the hell is Lionsgate? This is the kind of movie they’d eat up…

Anyway, hope you guys get a chance to see it up on a big screen with a skittish audience! PS This film is not to be confused with THE LOVED ONE, the incredible 1965 Tony Richardson fucked up dark comedy about the funeral business. However, both movies rock, so watch them both when you can. -Quint quint@aintitcool.com Follow Me On Twitter



Readers Talkback

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  • March 20, 2010, 4:39 a.m. CST

    First class Aussie cinema

    by catlettuce4

  • March 20, 2010, 4:40 a.m. CST

    Aussie?

    by Iowa Snot Client

    Sounds saucy.

  • March 20, 2010, 4:58 a.m. CST

    Didn't boil Glenn Close a bunny?

    by RedEgiraahgnal

    Never saw the movie, but from what I've heard it was a bunny and not a kitty.

  • March 20, 2010, 6:10 a.m. CST

    sounds good to me...

    by cifra

    ... but I'm doubtful about your comment of belonging to the "torture" subgenre.. I don't like it at all.

  • March 20, 2010, 6:59 a.m. CST

    Xavier or Xander?

    by onezeroone

    I still have no clue what the name of lead guy is. Is it a toungue-in-cheek clue to a Haute Tension type twist?

  • March 20, 2010, 7:25 a.m. CST

    Wolf Creek

    by DeNiro4Prez

    "Wolf Creek" was the best horror film released in the last 10 years... closest any film in the genre came to capturing the tone and terror of the origional TCM. So, yeah, I'll give this one a look as well. Thanks for the solid review.

  • March 20, 2010, 7:38 a.m. CST

    Urgh. Australian movies.

    by RICHARD_GERE_RAPED_MY_GERBIL

    I can't watch Australian movies. Whether it's a lame comedy like Muriel's Wedding or a sub-par horror flick like Wolf Creek, they're always filled with ugly bad actors with horrible accents, dreary photography and repugnant characters. Urgh.

  • March 20, 2010, 7:51 a.m. CST

    "horrible accents... huh?"

    by BennyL

    I suppose while we are at it, we should have the atlas changed so that the Earth's axis goes directly through your backyard, eh?

  • March 20, 2010, 8:01 a.m. CST

    RE: RICHARD GERE

    by DeNiro4Prez

    First and foremost, GREAT name! So great, in fact, that I can almost forgive your comments referring to 'Wolf Creek' as a 'sub-par' horror flick!? ALMOST. The 'dreary photography' of the Australian Outback served the film well, by setting the tone to the events that followed. The dreariness of the camera reflected the dreariness of the characters ensuing plight. But where the film really succeeded, was in establishing REAL characters (could of been any one of us), in a most absurd (but entirely plausible) situation, then forcing us (the audience) to question ourselves, if ever as to be so unfortunate as to be found in the same, or similar situation (very much in the same way that the origional TCM did back in the day). It was fucking brilliant! More so, it gave us one of the most memorable screen villians EVER to terrorize the silver screen! EVER.

  • March 20, 2010, 8:25 a.m. CST

    those photos shots are great.

    by future help

    I will check it out.

  • March 20, 2010, 8:41 a.m. CST

    richard gere..

    by mojination

    are you poking fun? you're poking fun aren't you! stop poking fun, you fun poker!

  • March 20, 2010, 8:59 a.m. CST

    needs more trailer.

    by alice133

    this has been getting hyped on the web for months and getting good reviews and still no trailer. wtf.

  • March 20, 2010, 10:42 a.m. CST

    GEORGE LUCAS NEW MOVIE!!!

    by MC_DLyte

    STAR WARS EPISODE -1: I LOVE YOU SO MUCH GIVING ME BLOW JOBS OBI ONE KANOBI http://j.mp/bUIzKk

  • March 20, 2010, 11:19 a.m. CST

    Saw it at TIFF

    by frozenhamster

    I saw The Loved Ones at the premiere midnight screening at last year's Toronto International Film Festival. It's a fantastic horror movie and one of the best experiences I've ever had at the theatre.

  • March 20, 2010, 11:48 a.m. CST

    Also saw it at TIFF

    by MoviemanJay

    Was my favourite Midnight Madness flick! Quint nailed it with his review. It was great with a lot of laughs (the kind that Midnight Madness fans want) and a lot of chills. There was a side plot that was good for a bit of relief after some tense scenes - but it did feel a bit tacked on. Regardless, it's a fantastic film and I can't wait to see it again.

  • March 20, 2010, 12:34 p.m. CST

    Gere's Gerbil should never travel to Austrailia

    by PhilipMarlowe

    He would then be the one with the horrible accent.

  • March 20, 2010, 1:06 p.m. CST

    sounds good

    by Waka_Flocka

  • March 20, 2010, 2:44 p.m. CST

    Will watch it first chance I get

    by stewarco

    Sounds right up my alley...

  • March 20, 2010, 5:25 p.m. CST

    havn't had the chance yet

    by chipps

    look forward to it

  • March 20, 2010, 6:09 p.m. CST

    Rabbit, she boiled a fluffy rabbit! Not a kitten.

    by Jugs

    Get your boiled fluffy wuffys right.

  • March 20, 2010, 7:16 p.m. CST

    Sounds original and creepy

    by liljuniorbrown

    As long as the torture shit dosn't overwhelm the movie as a whole it sounds like a classic. Not being a remake is a plus for horror movies lately.

  • March 20, 2010, 7:36 p.m. CST

    The best movie I saw at TIFF last year.

    by TheDark0Knight

    I saw every film that screened at the midnight madness portion of the toronto film festival & this was by far the best one. It won the audience choice award. Its a mindblowing debut. Everything Quint says is exactly how I felt. Its one of those films that reminds you why you love movies so much. I hope it gets north american distribution soon, I need to see it again.

  • March 20, 2010, 8:59 p.m. CST

    Nothing better than a good HORROR film...

    by KHjLL

  • March 21, 2010, 6:17 p.m. CST

    sounds awesome

    by Kammich

    as everyone clearly knows by now, its nearly impossible to find a solid horror film getting any substantial release in the US. so for the past 5 or so years I've done my best to scour the international genre market, and this movie sounds like one to make a mental note of. I especially like hearing how well the film was actually shot... thats one of the things I love about really good foreign horror; be it French, South Korean, Australian, Spanish... some of their best horror stuff is not only legitimately scary, but its gorgeous to look at. its like directors in the US are under the impression that their horror has to be muddy, poorly edited visual hodge-podge or it loses its credibility.

  • March 21, 2010, 6:20 p.m. CST

    We'll probably see a remake before this hits DVD

    by CarmillaVonDoom

    Sad but true.

  • March 23, 2010, 2:34 a.m. CST

    im an aussie and......

    by kidkombo

    ....i cant fucking believe i haven't heard a thing about this flick, sounds amazing! dunno whether im out of the loop or whether this film just hasn't had ANY promotion, but this is the first im hearing about it. will def keep an eye out for it.

  • March 24, 2010, 8:57 a.m. CST

    Saw this at SXSW

    by JesseSpots

    It's good. Lots of squirming in the seats. Lots of awkward laughter. Lots of ironic music: "Am I not pretty enough..." Good aussie flick, I can see this getting distribution soon.