Like most indie horror flicks that are worth watching, The Loved Ones has traveled a long hard road to get to us here in the states. Made in Australia back in 2009, The Loved Ones has been raking in fans on the festival circuit and on foreign home video markets for the last few years. The only difference between this one and so many low budget little indie horrors that take years to get proper distribution is that the offers were there early on, but the production company held out and waited for the best possible deal, that would give the film the widest possible exposure on the US market. That's how strongly they felt about the product, and the appeal it would hold for audiences. After waiting several years, the film was finally picked up by Paramount Insurge, and at long last came to Region 1 DVD on September 11th.
So is the film indeed worth watching? Was the wait worth it?
OH HELL YEA!
Sean Byrne's The Loved Ones is essentially a story about one small town's senior prom, and the three very different experiences three different teenagers are having with it. We've got Jamie, who is having a Dazed and Confused sorta night, getting drunk and high in the parking lot with the rocker chick he finally worked up the courage to ask out. Then we've got Brent, who is having a Texas Chainsaw Massacre sorta night, and whose night most of the film focuses on. Ya see, Brent was asked to the prom by a mentally unstable chick named Lola, who he rejected on the grounds that he was going with his girlfriend, Holly. As a result, Brent ends up spending prom night with Lola and her twisted family, who give the Sawyer clan a run for their fucked up money. And then we've got Brent's girlfriend Holly, who spends her night with Brent's mom, both worried sick and wondering where Brent is. So we've got these comedic, dramatic and horrific elements all playing off each other, and surprisingly, it all works pretty damn well, creating a wholly unique and sadistic little experience that's one of the bright spots for the genre in 2012 (even if it was made back in '09...).
The thing I absolutely fucking love about indie horror is how oftentimes unpredictable it is, and The Loved Ones is the absolute personification of that. Studio horror films have rendered the genre as a whole completely predictable, tired and formulaic, and these days it seems like it's the little low budget indies that are the only ones pushing the envelope, and bringing anything unique and new to the table. I know that it's been that way for a long time now, but it's never been more clear than this year, where pretty much every studio horror film (aside from Cabin In The Woods, which ironically attacks studio horror) has been the same run of the mill boring crap, movie after movie. Those films are only concerned with making money, which is really the difference between studio horror and indie horror. While studio horror has to play by certain rules in order to cater to the masses, indie horror filmmakers have the freedom to do absolutely whatever the fuck they want, which results in films like The Loved Ones, that are actually fun and refreshing to watch. And The Loved Ones is damn fun to watch, a demented and disturbing roller coaster that never lets up, the way horror movies should be.
Now the unfortunate thing here is that so many horror fans seem to stick to watching studio horror, and waste their 140 characters endlessly bitching about how terrible the genre is. Year after year. "The genre's dead!" ... "The genre's not what it used to be!!". No, the genre's not dead. It will never be dead. And if you think it is now, or ever, you really need to stop watching and giving your money to shit studio horror. Because guess what? Good horror movies are still being made every year. And they always will be. You just aren't likely to find them playing alongside the big budget blockbusters at your local theater.
Point being, I feel like we all give so much of our time and attention to crappy studio horror films, that we forget sometimes to heap praise on the good stuff, and spread the gospel on those movies that are actually worth talking about. (I know I ranted about this on the Facebook page earlier in the week, so if this all sounds familiar, bear with me!). Good horror movies come out each and every year, but all I seem to ever hear horror fans talking about is how shitty big studio remakes and direct to DVD sequels are. To that I say, think outside the box. Yes, the shitty films will always outweigh the good ones, but the good ones are still always going to be out there, they just may be harder to find. So stop wasting your time hating on the crap, and go out and seek out the good stuff.
The good stuff. That's exactly what The Loved Ones is. It's one of the good ones, one of those horror films that come along each year that make the wading through all the crap worth it. I know I've spent a lot of time here ranting about the perceived state of the genre, and not so much talking about the movie, but that's mostly because I don't want to ruin any of the fun of what goes down in it. It's a short film, at just under an hour and a half, and to really talk any more about it aside from spelling out the basic plot would potentially ruin some of the fun.
That said, I must mention that the performances all around here are incredible, with the standout being Robin McLeavy as Lola, the sadistic chick at the bloody core of the film. Lola is a character that won't soon be forgotten, joining the ranks of crazy chicks the likes of May, Carrie and Asami Yamazaki in the annals of great horror movie femme fatales.
Also gotta give props to the soundtrack, which is very diverse and unique. There's one song in particular that will now forever be connected to this movie in my mind, and which I will probably be wearing out on YouTube in the coming days. The wife's probably gonna think I'm Buffalo Bill'ing around in my room with my dick tucked between my legs when she hears the lyrics "Am I not pretty enough?" emanating behind the bedroom door over and over, but so be it.
Bottom line is, this movie is awesome and you need to seek it out. Australian horror continues to impress, and The Loved Ones is but further confirmation that the Aussies know what they're doing when it comes to blood, guts and torture. The horror genre hasn't exactly had a very strong year this year, but this is one of the ones that we'll all be looking back on as one of the best, come the end of the year. It's finger lickin' good!
The DVD screener I was sent came along with these goodies, which I loved before I saw the movie and love even more now that I've seen it, and understand their significance. In fact, I may or may not be wearing the crown as I type this. I'd totally be your king, Lola.