Thursday, September 20, 2012

Loved Ones, The (2009/2012)

Director: Sean Byrne
Notable Cast: Xavier Samuel, Robin McLeavy, Victoria Thaine, John Brumpton

As you will have noticed, the date beside the title has two numbers. The first number is when the film was originally released and the second is when we finally saw it released in mass for the United States. That means, if my math is correct, we had to wait THREE YEARS to see this highly acclaimed horror film in my part of the world. Call it punishment. Call it a test of patience, but it's about fucking time either way. The wait was worth it too as "The Loved Ones" bats a strong independent horror right out of the ballpark. It's brutal with its terror, quirky with hits dark humor, and ultimately the best of both.

Brent (Samuel) has had his life torn up. His father died recently in a car wreck where he was driving and his mom as all be checked out of their life. The only thing that has kept him going is his girlfriend Holly (Thaine) and their potential together. School is about to end and the final dance is coming up, so when Brent tells the odd girl in school Lola that he can't go with her he doesn't realize the situation he just put himself in. Now Lola and her father have a plan for Brent. A plan to hold a dance of their own to see if he truly is the prince charming she thinks he is...

I've had those mornings too, bud. Wrong side of the bed rarely describes those kind of mornings.
What genuinely makes "The Loved Ones" so damn impressive is that, on paper, the film looked like a pretty run of the mill torture horror flick. The film and its top notch young director then take those assumptions inject them with enough heart, black souled comedy, and an eye for artistic that the end result is something far more than the sum of its parts. A terrifying and emotionally disturbing roller coaster ride of adolescent whims dictated by violence and skewed realities put to a modern sense of quirky writing and visual prowess. I was completely glued to the film with its horror and its oddly funny sense of timing and it was a damn fine film experience.

A lot of this is driven by some very talented actors/actresses that push this film to the limits. Xavier Samuel (which many of you may only know from his villainous role in "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse") simply hones in with his performance as the lost and emotional Brent while the driven and scary Robin McLeavy perfectly counterbalances that with her slot as the crazy bitch who could. Hell, even some of the throw away roles such as Lola's father and Brent's girlfriend Holly are packed with their own depth and the actors seem to run with it.

I'm not sure what's scarier: the hammer or the eyes. But I do know that combined...bad things ahead.
This is partnered with a rather brilliant debut for director/writer Sean Byrne. His ability to create tension in some of the most mundane moments (like having Brent lick the finger of Lola) and then add in just enough comedic timing to get us to giggle before horrifying us is staggering in the film. Visually its a stunner with beautiful shots, creepy timing, and solid use of setting while his use of music is completely enamoring with its strongly written characters and plot progressions. Byrne is most certainly a name to keep your eye on as "The Loved Ones" is one of the strongest debuts for a horror director/writer that will catapult him into the ranks with modern legends like Eli Roth, Ti West, and Adam Green.

It's a lonely road when you're bat shit insane.
At many times "The Loved Ones" could have crossed into the lines of too campy, too cliche, or too torture focused. It never does. This Australian ditty perfectly balances all of its elements with razor sharp exactness taking the horror, comedy, and thoughtful human senses to levels that only a few horror films ever can accomplish. And its a debut film. Easily one of the best modern horror films I have ever seen and one that is a must own in any one's collection.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

I said "The Loved Ones" was a must own, so what are you waiting for? Use the links below, purchase yourself a damn copy, and see one of the best modern horror films ever made!


  1. Good review. This film definitely takes total use of it's premise, and just milks it for everything that it's worth. One of the better horror films of the year, and wasn't it from 2009? Anywho, great flick.

  2. Thank you so much. Yeah it was originally released in 2009 with a limited home video release too. So it wasn't massively distributed til 2012 which is why I wasn't able to see it til now. And Paramount didn't even put it on Blu Ray which is massively disappointing because I would buy it that way in a heart beat.

  3. Good review Matt. I have been curious about this film ever since I read about it forever ago. Now I will need to watch it.