Review

Harry is sick enough to love THE LOVED ONES! Which plays tonight at SXSW!

Published at: March 9, 2012, 4:11 a.m. CST

 

Who doesn’t love a great cautionary tale about the darker ramifications of PROM behavior?

 

Before you answer, if you love absolutely brutally funny & disturbing horror, see THE LOVED ONES.   I saw this film about a year ago now it feels like.   It played at SXSW about two years ago now.   And it is back for an encore screening tonight, but the good news is – the film is going to be released in the U.S!!  At last.

 

This one has been sitting in a can since 2009.   It took a long time to find a distributor.   Not because it is bad.   Not because it sucks, but because it is as tough and brutal a movie as a studio has released.   Contrary to the somewhat sweet posters – this movie has a bloody heart in the center of its valentine.   I can not wait to see it with a full audience tomorrow night.  

 

I saw it alone with my wife.  We screamed.   It made me scream like I broke a nail.   It felt illegally awesome.   I mean, this is an Australian Prom Exploitation film unlike anything you’ve seen.  

 

Well…  think HOSTEL, THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS, CARRIE, WOLF CREEK – but imagine a film with those levels of brutal nasty horror…  but also the kind of crazy high camp that makes it all absolutely palatable. 

 

I really do feel the the story should just sneak up on you.   It’s been well reviewed online by just about everyone.   In some ways I’m writing this review now, because I know it has a screening tomorrow night at the Alamo Village – and I really can’t wait to see it with a full audience as part of SXSW.   I love that this one is finally coming to non-film festival screens soon.  

 

The best thing about the film is that it gives you characters to root for, villains to kind of understand & feel for, then other things.   Things I won’t mention, but things that should be concerned about nightmare capable children being able to handle.   This is a very hard R.  Brutally so.   I do not recommend bringing a kid in to see this.   It’s just, brutal.   However, I kind of believe that every kid that saw FOOTLOOSE see THE LOVED ONES in a special double feature.   Because it’d just feel so twisted and wrong.   And good.   So good.  

 

The film has solid dramatic performances.   When the eventual twist occurs, you suddenly realize that the genre has changed rather aggressively.   The results are spectacular in their own wonderfully terrible ways.   I’m pretty sure there’s no way in hell I’d survive anything in this movie.   I watch out of sheer admiration.   If the lead character can survive…  for a majority of a film like this at least – I’m amazed.   It’s just so god damned horrible that you just feel so relaxed about your own life.  

 

It’s cathartic horror.   Horror that releases tension and ultimately relaxes you.   You’re not living in the outback, middle of fuck you very much!   Seriously, I’m way too dainty to survive this.   I expect the characters to die, because who the fuck would want to survive this?   Again, I did cover my mouth and nose with my hands in that – OHMYGOD – reactions.  

 

Really looking forward to seeing this one again!

Readers Talkback

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  • March 9, 2012, 4:34 a.m. CST

    Sounds like one to keep an eye out for

    by murray_hamilton

  • March 9, 2012, 5:21 a.m. CST

    Good Film

    by SonOfChiba

    Shame it's taken this long to hit the US - it's been available on UK DVD/BD for a while now. Oz is really hitting it's stride lately at getting some serious, quality films out there.

  • March 9, 2012, 6:25 a.m. CST

    having trouble understanding...

    by zom-bot.com

    what: 'You’re not living in the outback, middle of fuck you very much! Again, I did cover my mouth and nose with my hands in that – OHMYGOD – reactions.' means.

  • March 9, 2012, 6:27 a.m. CST

    Great film that hasn't had exposure it deserves

    by Jeffwode

    Saw it at a horror fest in Leeds last year and have been trying to spread the love.

  • March 9, 2012, 6:51 a.m. CST

    Availabe on Netflix...

    by kaopr1

    Should be.

  • March 9, 2012, 6:52 a.m. CST

    *available*

    by kaopr1

  • March 9, 2012, 6:52 a.m. CST

    Cool News.

    by BangoSkank

    Too bad the DVD is region locked. I look forward to it become available to the rest of us.

  • March 9, 2012, 6:53 a.m. CST

    Awesome Aussie-flick...

    by Rasmus Starup Petersen

    Violent and funny to boot. Watch it, if you haven't.

  • March 9, 2012, 7 a.m. CST

    Nevermind...

    by kaopr1

    It pops up when you search the Netflix site but I dont believe its available to rent or stream.

  • March 9, 2012, 7:19 a.m. CST

    netflix- only to save- which means it's coming but not available.

    by zom-bot.com

    saved it.

  • March 9, 2012, 7:34 a.m. CST

    I know Harry is suspect on most of his reviews but...This is an AWESOME flick.

    by The_Credible_Hulk

    Thought it was going to go down the torture porn road at some point, but thank God it steered clear of that. It's pretty intense at times, but somehow the absurdity of the villian keeps the movie from getting too serious about itself.

  • March 9, 2012, 8:40 a.m. CST

    Yeah but does someone assfuck a freshly shitted centipede woman?

    by UltraTron

    Then execute each link in the centipede in the most graphic torture/murder ever seen? Does a woman give birth half while running and then drop the baby out under the gas peddle of a car and then stomp the baby pedal to the metal to escape? If not then this movie has already failed me.

  • I got a little photobook i'm makin of it. I'll never forgive my friends for making me watch it alone. They deserve what I have coming for them. Let's see to do list: home depot(pliers,duct tape, crowbar..)

  • March 9, 2012, 8:58 a.m. CST

    ultratron

    by BlueLando

    Yeah, we did the same for HC 2. I don't even hate it. It's like a parody of the first one. HC 1 is so bad it's funny, and HC 2 is so disgusting it's hilarious. Like you're in disbelief at how fucking insane it is that they have a scene where an actress thinks she's auditioning for a Tarantino film in an abandoned warehouse.

  • March 9, 2012, 9 a.m. CST

    On that score...

    by BlueLando

    Have you seen the South Park, Human Centipede episode? Japanese guy yelling 'OH NO KYRE' is fucking hilarious...

  • March 9, 2012, 9:05 a.m. CST

    i LOVE this movie!

    by topaz4206

    It was one of my top 10 the year it came out in Aus. I didn't find it campy at all -- there is some dark humor (Dexter-style) but it all comes from a place of genuine insanity. Beautiful film.

  • March 9, 2012, 9:15 a.m. CST

    This movie blows...

    by Jon

    Saw it at TIFF 2009 Midnight Madness at its world premiere. It was described as Evil Dead Meets Pretty in Pink meets Misery. Too bad no one told us the ratio was more like like 95% Misery, 4% Pretty in Pink, and 1% Evil Dead. And a pale attempt at Misery at that. Pretty much just another excuse for an unfunny bit of torture porn. Lola gets mad. Lola decides to get revenge. Lola is completely one-dimensional and doesn't want anything except to torture the guy by a third of the way into the movie. Cue every horror cliche and lots of torture porn that doesn't move any story (what story?) forward. The main character has zero choices to make. There's nothing here except a bunch of torture scenes strung together in a loose semblance of a story. The only good part was the tangential storyline with Jamie trying to get with Mia and that was pretty much completely unnecessary to the movie as a whole. We sat behind the Spierig Brothers (Daybreakers) at the screening. They didn't look too amused at film's end.

  • March 9, 2012, 11:07 a.m. CST

    Loved this movie

    by bigtime_charly

    It seems like a long time ago now but I had a lot of fun with it. Ah, great days...

  • March 9, 2012, 11:40 a.m. CST

    joncedit

    by ScaryJim

    Daybreakers was not only dull, forgettable and utterly charmless, it also had a $20,000,000 budget if IMDB is to be believed - So why exactly should anyone give a fuck about what the Spierig brothers think? They've just done a cheesy, knock off vampire flick. The Loved Ones had characters you could root for, a story and a mythology - It was totally removed from torture porn . Yes, A GUY GOT TORTURED, but the whole movie wasn't SOME GUY GETTING TORTURED. Really, it's a dick move to rail on a no budget film from Australia like that, something alot of these Aussie films do is invest in character, and have a bit of quirkiness with their horror- Wolf Creek is easily more Torture porn than this but it still invested in characters making them believable so you actually didn't want them to die. Alot of American movie makers seem to like to make us want to see their incessantly annoying, cliched characters getting mutilated.

  • March 9, 2012, 12:24 p.m. CST

    How many 3-year old movies sitting on a studio shelf are actually good?

    by Bartleby T. Scrivener

    None.

  • March 9, 2012, 1:21 p.m. CST

    Sick?

    by Iahael

    Oh, for fuck's sake, Harry, I read the headline expecting another review written while you were deathly ill. But you are "sick" enough to get into this "brutal" movie -- ok, fine. Not a crappy review per se, good to see you are not ill. Move along. T.'.

  • March 9, 2012, 1:44 p.m. CST

    This movie blows...but I like getting head

    by Duka

    I'm not going to rehash and bash the whole plot like some ignorant twats. The Loved Ones achieves a creepy tone at the party, kind of like Red State when kid in the blanketed cage realized where he was. I like that tone; it's what I look for when watching horror movies. Why else would I watch them? Heavy plots and deep character studies suit other genres. I want to be scared and hopefully revel in in a cathartic ending. As for the violence and gore? I hate the term torture porn. Who jerks off to that shit anyway? Is Misery, torture porn? This is a movie for those who've had bat shit crazy exes.

  • March 9, 2012, 2:08 p.m. CST

    How about an encore of SOLOMON KANE! When does that movie get released in the U.S.?

    by Stereotypical Evil Archer

    I want to know.

  • March 9, 2012, 5:52 p.m. CST

    scaryjim

    by Jon

    I don't particularly care either way on the Spierig Brothers but if it's between The Loved Ones and Daybreakers, I'll take Daybreakers thank you. At least there's an actual story involved. "The whole movie wasn't SOME GUY GETTING TORTURED." Oh really? Then tell me what it was. Tell me what story there was beyond the barest elements. Also please explain to me what elements make this "totally removed from torture porn". Also, get over the fact that I'm dissing a "no budget film from Australia". Amazingly, I've already ran into that argument over at IMDb like it's some kind of attack on Aussie films that I don't like this (for the record, I'm just as vocal about supporting the films I like and some of them are low-budget and from Australia, the most recent being Snowtown). If you don't want to hear anything other than fawnish praise, than why are you on a talkback where the whole point is to DISCUSS things. Since all you'd be doing then is patting each others' backs for digging the movie. Because I don't want to have to just rephrase a whole bunch of things I've posted before, I'm going to post my previous response in a debate regarding the Loved Ones over from the IMDb boards. This is just a cutout of the bulk of it with some slight tweaks, I talk about a bit more in the original post: The majority of the time we spend in the movie is with Lola torturing Brent. What story? The only real story we got in the film was that Lola felt rejected by Brent and decided to torture him by staging her own prom (and that she abducts lots of boys). Spending most of our time watching Lola torture Brent with little progression in story justifies the torture porn label to me - whether it's more or less extreme than Hostel and I Spit on Your Grave (I've only seen the former) is irrelevant. Just like Hostel, it is torture porn because the skimpy first act story is all setup for two acts of torture and escape and torture, etc… Lola is not an interesting character. She's a one-dimensional villain, just a twisted character who decides to enact a big form of revenge. Look at the movie Carrie, for a comparison. I'll be the first to note that I'm not a particularly huge fan of Carrie (though I love much of de Palma's other work) but one thing it got right is an interesting backstory and buildup for Carrie's inevitable explosion and anger. She's bullied, she's teased. Her mother is psychotically hardcore religious and beats her. We spend time following her through these events so that the audience's emotions are played up when she goes on her rampage. Take Misery, for another example, a film that The Loved Ones is clearly trying to emulate. That movie worked because there was a very clear connection between the villain (played by Kathy Bates) and the author she holds hostage - she is his biggest fan, obsessed to no end with him and his books. She's not simply there as a tool to deliver twisted torture scenes. Every time she does something to him, it's motivated by a reason other than "just because". She gets violent because he kills off one of her favourite characters in his latest book. She tries to force him to write a new one where Misery comes back to life. When he tries to escape, she needs him to stay and finish the book so she sledgehammers his legs. She's chilling because you can understand what motivates each and every moment of her character. It's interesting to watch because she wants something from the author. There's a tug-of-war between them. Because we spend as much time as we do with Lola (i.e. most of the film), and because the premise hinges completely on her want for revenge, they need to build her into something more than a caricature, give her some motivations and goals throughout. Here Lola wants an extreme form of revenge…simply because she's a psychopath. We don't get any insight into why she's a psychopath or what made her this way. She just is. And she gets it by grabbing him, early in the film and then has no more motivations or wants. Each time she tortures the main character, it's just because she feels like it. There's no reasoning behind it. She doesn't have anything she wants from the main character at this point unlike Bates' character from Misery. That's what I call flat and uninteresting to watch. The best villains always have reasons or motivations for their individual actions, as twisted as they may be, with the exception of the Joker in Dark Knight (because he was meant to be a symbol of anarchy). Now on rare occasions, you can have a prominent, one-dimensional villain in a film and still make it work provided this villain gives the main character enough challenges, motivations, conflicts and choices to make the film interesting. But that's not the case here. Brent's sole purpose in the film is to try and escape from Lola. His connection to Lola (the man in the middle of the road at the beginning) is played as a simple link not an actual storyline/arc. He doesn't have anything to play off of as a character because Lola doesn't want anything from him (other than to torture him). And so, not much character dimension can be (or is) revealed because there's no conflict on a mental level. For example, on a very primitive level, if she had say…his girlfriend hostage as well, and she made him choose between himself and his girlfriend to get the bleach injected. That would have been more interesting because it would have revealed things about his character - is he truly heroic? Is he at the core of it all out to save his own skin? Etc. All the conflict of the film is physical. None of the smaller decisions have repercussions on the larger picture of the film. We might as well watch a wrestling match. The only thing we're invested in is…who's going to win. I could have skipped the middle act and gotten exactly the same points I got out of watching the whole film. That's torture porn. It's all physical with no rhyme or reason. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1316536/board/thread/171714784?p=5&d=191421908#191421908

  • You don't have to give away the story or twists big guy - but not even an idea of setting, character, opening set up?

  • March 10, 2012, 6:43 a.m. CST

    Harry, I dont think anyone has ever thought of you as....

    by dancetothebeatofthelivingdead

    dainty

  • March 10, 2012, 8:42 a.m. CST

    It's no longer a twist, when you say it's a twist.

    by MisterManReturns

    I understand that you put a "spoiler" warning, but do you not realize that the "twist" is destroyed, when you identify it as such?

  • March 10, 2012, 8:45 a.m. CST

    Wait, you DIDN'T say spoiler.

    by MisterManReturns

    No wonder I'm irritated. Again - whether you tell us the specifics of the "game-changer" aspect of a film, or not, it's still ruined by knowing merely of its existence.

  • March 10, 2012, 10:11 a.m. CST

    Anytime something is compared to Wolf Creek...

    by maxjohnson1971

    It turns me off. I hated hated hated hated hated hated that POS. Did I mention that I hated that fucking movie?

  • March 10, 2012, 5:12 p.m. CST

    Twist???

    by Prior Walter

    I just watched this movie. Loved it. There were no twists, though. Really confused reading this review and talkback. I can't even identify any moments that can be perceived as a twist.

  • March 10, 2012, 9:02 p.m. CST

    Of course he did..Harry Loves torture porn

    by liljuniorbrown

    Anything that involves torture or people getting raped and he gives it one thumb way up, other hand firmly on his flab where a dick should be. Let's just go revisit reviews for the Human Centipede or Red White and Blue...or Hostel or anything else that has torture/deviant shit happening with no real pay off

  • March 10, 2012, 10:08 p.m. CST

    Oh, I thought you were referring to.....

    by archer1949

    The classic 1965 Tony Richardson black comedy. Instead, it's just more torture porn horseshit. Yawn..........

  • March 11, 2012, 11:53 a.m. CST

    great film, not torture porn

    by Buffalo500

    I saw this film on tv on Film 4 last year. Really enjoyed it. And I certainly would not put it in the torture porn genre (whatever that is), there is so much more to enjoy here that just a torture film. Definitely more in the ozploitation style.

  • March 12, 2012, 3:26 p.m. CST

    This is a good one

    by Azby

    Although it bears some resemblance to 'torture porn', the attraction here is in a tight script and some entertainingly demented performances. Really worth a watch.

  • March 12, 2012, 3:27 p.m. CST

    Oh and Wolf Creek? Its nothing like it.

    by Azby

    I didn't enjoy that either.

  • March 12, 2012, 6:13 p.m. CST

    Like Wolf Creek, is it inspired by actual events?

    by v3d

  • March 13, 2012, 3:01 a.m. CST

    Great film!

    by Hat Man

    See it, ignore the haters. As an Aussie, I am often a little depressed by Aussie cinema. We do make good films, but often they are 'films-with-a-meaning.' In other words, well made, well shot, well directed, well acted, and why the the fuck would I see it? Its depressing shit. This and my other recent Aussie fave Red Hill, restored my faith that we can still make films that get it, and that are fun! The Loved Ones is perhaps more like Pretty in Pink meets Hostel. See it!

  • March 28, 2012, 10:43 a.m. CST

    Awesome movie, been out for a whiiiile now tho

    by Pretentiousmovieprick

  • April 23, 2012, 2:02 p.m. CST

    joncedit

    by blue7

    STFU you twat. This is a great movie. Miles better than Undead or Daybreakers, you fucking name dropper.

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