Ginger Nuts of Horror
FILM GUTTER Come on in,
We're off the Australia once again – quite a jaunt from here in the UK, but thankfully the world of film makes everything smaller, closer and easier to find. This one is also a rewatch – I actually rented this originally from Blockbuster Video (remember those, anyone?) and when it rolled around on the Horror Channel here in the UK I couldn't resist taking another look. I had fond memories of this as truly twisted fun, and on second viewing it certainly lived up to my recollection. The Loved Ones is out there – pretty way out there – but it's probably one of the extreme horror movies that has made me smile the most. It also – I only realised this time around – starred Robin McLeavy, who was recently in Backtrack and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and an actress I'm sure we'll be seeing more of in the future.
The movie comes with the tagline 'Prom Night Can Be Torture', and that's about as concise a summation as there could be. The story follows Brent, not exactly a high school winner but a pretty popular guy with a certain alternative charm to him and an attractive girlfriend to boot. When he's asked to prom by school oddball Lola Stone, he refuses, but Lola is not in the mood to take no for an answer. And when Brent goes for a long run out in the countryside, he finds himself grabbed form behind and chloroformed...
And there begins what can only be described as the prom night of your nightmares. When Brent comes to he is dressed in his suit, tied to a chair by his hands and feet at a dinner table. Soon enough Lola emerges, in a lovely pink number that is before long going to wind up with a good splash of red on it too, to be joined by her quietly perturbed father and his lobotomised partner, only ever referred to as Bright Eyes. Obviously she doesn't have too much to say for herself, which just gives more room for the creepy and borderline incestuous relationship between father and daughter.
Brent is really about to endure an unpleasant evening, which each attempt at escape or unfriendly and unromantic behaviour towards Lola greeted with some awful act of violence. It might all sound distinctly grim, but there's a wry and admittedly mightily dark humour that runs through this whole thing. It's a cringing sort of comedy, and you'll probably find that most of the laughter you emit will be pretty uneasy. This element is aided by Brent's best friend's efforts at prom night with his goth girl partner, which does provided some genuine yuks along the way.
It's honestly hard to say too much more about The Loved Ones without providing a heap of spoilers, and as a movie that prides itself in keeping you unbalanced and guessing throughout that would be a real shame of a thing to do. This is a movie that captures a rare sort of madcap quality in the subgenre, reminding me in small aspects of the likes of Shudder: The Man Who Doesn't Die or even the (I would consider overdone) comedy of Unrated. But it has an edge of quality to it, with a great soundtrack, some fantastic visuals and three strong performances to carry the insanity to its conclusion.
RATING: 8/10. There's not quite enough real substance to give this absolute top marks, but there is stacks of fun to be had with The Loved Ones. If you have the kind of twisted sense of humour that is so often required to read these reviews – let alone watch some of the movies involved – then be ready to laugh. It's a movie I have a soft spot for undoubtedly, and one that I'll probably come back to for a third watch at some point...
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