21 August 2012

Film: The Loved Ones (2009)

Thoughts: The Loved Ones is quite possibly the best blind-buy I have ever made. The execution of this flick is near flawless. I tend to think that if a film incites a physical reaction from me, then it is a damn good flick. I laughed, I winced, I jerked, I shook my head, I felt giddy and I yelled at the TV. This film is, quite simply, a demented, deranged masterpiece.

Brent (Xavier Samuel) accidentally kills his father while trying to avoid a mysterious figure standing in the middle of a deserted road. Six months later, and he's getting by- barely. He has a steady girlfriend, a great friend, and a habit of self-harm and self-destruction. The end of year formal is coming up, and Brent is going with his girlfriend Holly, naturally. But this doesn't sit right with resident outcast Lola (the already blowing up Robin McLeavy), and she decides to kidnap Brent to stage a little formal of their own.

The above synopsis only really paints the base colour of this particular canvas, and for good reason. The Loved Ones runs at an almost relentless pace, and not completely through suspense or horror. The more I think about it, the more difficult it becomes to categorize this film. Horror? Definitely, but not entirely, it certainly doesn't run with the regular heartbeat of the genre. Thriller? Of course, but it is far too gory for a standard suspense flick. Torture porn? Maybe... well, not really, actually. There's a rhyme and reason for it all, albeit a very twisted, messed up one. It even has elements of drama, action, romance, coming-of-age, and a very healthy dose of guilt and mourning. It is, basically, in a league all of it's own. In fact, the film is so strong, that it even conjures up its own horror iconography, or trademarks, if you will.

You have particular kills, particular sequences that are one-of-a-kind, but definitely one of the main ones is that of the character of Lola, or "Princess". She is a deranged, fucked-up piece of work, played to twitchy, dead-eyed perfection by Robin McLeavy. As a matter of fact, all of the cast a game as hell, and each character- even the side characters- end up becoming really quite fully fleshed and rounded people; unlike any horror film I have ever seen. At least, any horror film that deals in the chosen tropes of this one. The film essentially plays as an extended, Australian version of the dinner scene from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but even then that doesn't do it justice.

And yet, after all this, the technical side of the film is so strong that writer/director Sean Byrne is already being hunted down by Hollywood like the dog he is. Not only is the story and script fantastically conceived (aside from the usual speedbumps you get at the start of most Aussie flicks and their exchanges between characters; I think it's the accent to be honest), but the colour, cinematography, blocking, pacing and sound are all so good, you'd expect them to be working with a massive Hollywood team and a budget of millions. Not so. This is just true, proper filmmaking, like it damn well should be. And a cracking soundtrack too!

What more can I say? This is taking pride of place on The Wall, and rightfully so in my opinion. Now, to watch the blind buy of Snowtown that I got with this (JB HiFi 3 for 2 sale), and hopefully be amazed by the quality of that film, and praise myself for having such a keen eye.

5/5 (Seriously! It really is that damn good!)

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