The Loved Ones
It is rather sad whenever I hear someone say that the horror genre has dried up despite the tremendous amount of talent lurking in both the underground and independent horror scenes. Sure, the films that are advertised widespread are usually shit spin-offs or remakes that are nothing more than a cash cow, but there are certainly tons of movies that film aficionados miss just because they are way too lazy to either spread their eyes away from their favorite directors and actors, or simply because they only pay attention to the films that media decides to cover. This is really why a lot of notable and otherwise spectacular movies go unnoticed, such as was the case with "The Loved Ones". 

This 2009 Australian horror film was the surprising directorial debut from Sean Byrne. The man isn't necessarily the most well known figure in the business by a long shot, but he has received several awards for his shorts, and even received the Australian Directors Guild and Screen Sound Australia Awards for Excellence in Drama Directing for his shorts "Work?", "Sport", "Sunday", and "Ben". More recently, the director will have his next film "The Devil's Candy" release in the USA in two days, and early reviews for the film are already stating that the six year wait has been worth it. But, looking back to 2009, you will understand why so many people have been awaiting his next feature film. 

Byrne's "The Loved Ones" is a sickening twist on the prom and torture genres; think of it as a mix between "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" and "Carrie". The film follows Brent who, on the day of his prom, is kidnapped by Lola's father after he rejected her hand to the prom, only to be tortured by the two of them throughout the night. 

What I would first like to say about the film is that I really liked how they actually had all the actors look like they were still in high school. Most of the times horror films fuck up majorly and say that the characters within them are in high school or their early days of college, but they look like they're in their 30s. Maybe those characters have background stories where they failed a fuck ton of times, but it really isn't plausible. "The Loved Ones" makes their characters believable from the get go just based on pure image, and it was shocking to see this actually happen for once. 

Now, what I really loved about the overall plot of the film is that everything that happens within the film comes full circle. Every single tragedy or upset in the film circles around Lola and her father's sadistic nature. Whether it is the depressing, but rebellious attitude of Mia Valentine played by Jessica McNamee, the catalyst introduction to the film, all events within the film meet a fitting end. 

Each of the actors in the film do a swell job within it, as well. I will give props to Xavier Samuel, who played Brent throughout the film, as his character was silent for most of it. Nonetheless, his facial features told you exactly how and what he felt throughout the film's duration. From being tortured, to feeling hope, to determination, Samuel ushered in a powerful performance. What I enjoyed highly of his character was that he did not play the usual horror victim who was completely helpless. This dude fought back with everything he had and made sure that when he hit, he hit hard and made it count. Because of that, there was always tension between himself and his kidnappers, Lola and Daddy. 

Starring next to him as the psychotic father/daughter duo, Robin McLeavy's Lola Stone and John Brumpton's Daddy Stone complimented each other wonderfully. While Lola was the princess, Daddy was her muscle and teacher. Whenever Brent did something that wasn't to Lola's liking, Daddy was there to, for example, almost nail Brent's dick to his chair. 

What the film also did was exchange dramatic, drawn out tension for quicker paced action mixed with comic relief. The comic relief was brought to life by Richard Wilson's Jamie. Playing as Brent's stoner friend, he brought McNamee's Mia Valentine to the dance. However, after getting high and drunk, you can only imagine how things went. Also, Valentine's father is a cop. So, yes, hilarity ensues.

This whole film was a blast to get through, and a wonderful directorial debut from Byrne. It may seem straightforward, but trust me when I say there are plenty of surprises to be found in the film as you make your way through it. It really isn't the goriest film on the planet, which might disappoint some horror fanatics, but it expertly tinkers between making your stomach queasy, to making you laugh, to making you feel scared for the characters' lives. 

"The Loved Ones" is a fast horrorfest filled with enlightening performances, and Byrne has dealt a strong hand with his first feature film. 
4
Brutal Resonance

The Loved Ones

7.5
"Good"
Genre: Horror
Director: Sean Byrne
Writer: Sean Byrne
Star actors: Xavier Samuel, Robin McLeavy, John Brumpton, Victoria Thaine
It is rather sad whenever I hear someone say that the horror genre has dried up despite the tremendous amount of talent lurking in both the underground and independent horror scenes. Sure, the films that are advertised widespread are usually shit spin-offs or remakes that are nothing more than a cash cow, but there are certainly tons of movies that film aficionados miss just because they are way too lazy to either spread their eyes away from their favorite directors and actors, or simply because they only pay attention to the films that media decides to cover. This is really why a lot of notable and otherwise spectacular movies go unnoticed, such as was the case with "The Loved Ones". 

This 2009 Australian horror film was the surprising directorial debut from Sean Byrne. The man isn't necessarily the most well known figure in the business by a long shot, but he has received several awards for his shorts, and even received the Australian Directors Guild and Screen Sound Australia Awards for Excellence in Drama Directing for his shorts "Work?", "Sport", "Sunday", and "Ben". More recently, the director will have his next film "The Devil's Candy" release in the USA in two days, and early reviews for the film are already stating that the six year wait has been worth it. But, looking back to 2009, you will understand why so many people have been awaiting his next feature film. 

Byrne's "The Loved Ones" is a sickening twist on the prom and torture genres; think of it as a mix between "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" and "Carrie". The film follows Brent who, on the day of his prom, is kidnapped by Lola's father after he rejected her hand to the prom, only to be tortured by the two of them throughout the night. 

What I would first like to say about the film is that I really liked how they actually had all the actors look like they were still in high school. Most of the times horror films fuck up majorly and say that the characters within them are in high school or their early days of college, but they look like they're in their 30s. Maybe those characters have background stories where they failed a fuck ton of times, but it really isn't plausible. "The Loved Ones" makes their characters believable from the get go just based on pure image, and it was shocking to see this actually happen for once. 

Now, what I really loved about the overall plot of the film is that everything that happens within the film comes full circle. Every single tragedy or upset in the film circles around Lola and her father's sadistic nature. Whether it is the depressing, but rebellious attitude of Mia Valentine played by Jessica McNamee, the catalyst introduction to the film, all events within the film meet a fitting end. 

Each of the actors in the film do a swell job within it, as well. I will give props to Xavier Samuel, who played Brent throughout the film, as his character was silent for most of it. Nonetheless, his facial features told you exactly how and what he felt throughout the film's duration. From being tortured, to feeling hope, to determination, Samuel ushered in a powerful performance. What I enjoyed highly of his character was that he did not play the usual horror victim who was completely helpless. This dude fought back with everything he had and made sure that when he hit, he hit hard and made it count. Because of that, there was always tension between himself and his kidnappers, Lola and Daddy. 

Starring next to him as the psychotic father/daughter duo, Robin McLeavy's Lola Stone and John Brumpton's Daddy Stone complimented each other wonderfully. While Lola was the princess, Daddy was her muscle and teacher. Whenever Brent did something that wasn't to Lola's liking, Daddy was there to, for example, almost nail Brent's dick to his chair. 

What the film also did was exchange dramatic, drawn out tension for quicker paced action mixed with comic relief. The comic relief was brought to life by Richard Wilson's Jamie. Playing as Brent's stoner friend, he brought McNamee's Mia Valentine to the dance. However, after getting high and drunk, you can only imagine how things went. Also, Valentine's father is a cop. So, yes, hilarity ensues.

This whole film was a blast to get through, and a wonderful directorial debut from Byrne. It may seem straightforward, but trust me when I say there are plenty of surprises to be found in the film as you make your way through it. It really isn't the goriest film on the planet, which might disappoint some horror fanatics, but it expertly tinkers between making your stomach queasy, to making you laugh, to making you feel scared for the characters' lives. 

"The Loved Ones" is a fast horrorfest filled with enlightening performances, and Byrne has dealt a strong hand with his first feature film. 
Sep 27 2015

Steven Gullotta

info@brutalresonance.com
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.

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