“Messed Up Movie Month” Review: The Loved Ones (2009)

There’s something to be said about a film’s ability to escalate.  Recently we got a great example of how tastefully done escalation can work to enhance a film in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive.  The film started off subdued and quiet, but tension slowly built until the film reached its bloody and violent third act.  This will probably be the first and last time anyone compares Sean Byrne’s The Loved Ones to Drive, but in terms of tension and escalation the two films are on par. Like Drive, the Loved Ones starts off quite slow, bordering on melodrama at times, but once things ramp up, boy do they ever ramp up. What initially appears to be a high-school drama the likes of which we’ve seen countless times before turns into well, nothing of the sort.

Xavier Samuel plays Brent, a depressed, and self-mutilating teen who would really have no reason to be depressed and self-mutilate — he’s handsome, has an attractive girlfriend, and is presumably quite popular at school — if it weren’t for the fact that he may have indirectly caused the death of his father.  I’m apprehensive to say much more about the plot, because honestly The Loved Ones is the type of film you want to go into completely blind.  A lot of the great moments in the film stem from your lack of knowledge in regards to what the heck is going on. Don’t watch the trailer, don’t read a synopsis.  I wont say anything more than this: if Korea were for some reason to never exist, Australia would have a pretty firm grasp on the throne for greatest revenge films, mostly on account of The Loved Ones.  It’s insane, and just when you think it couldn’t possibly get any more insane, it does.

The film suffers a bit when it comes to characters however.  While the four leads are great in their roles, the rest of the cast seems a bit lost.  Two characters in particular seem to exist solely for the purpose of adding a sex scene to the film, and there’s this whole melodramatic plot revolving around the parents of all of the kids involved in the main narrative that falls a bit flat.  I don’t think the film would have been quite as good without the existence of these characters, but it would be nice if the script had more for them to do.  There’s also a couple of plot details that don’t really make sense within the context of the film’s universe, but to be more specific would spoil a rather large portion of the movie.

Aside from that, and some at times jarring visual and sound editing, I can’t really find anything to dislike about The Loved Ones.  It truly is a really messed up movie, the gore and violence in the film is the best kind — not explicitely gory and over the top, but immensly distrubing and gut wrenching in it’s implications.  Byrne doesn’t show you all the gritty details of his violence, but you most certainly feel every last one of them.  I can’t think of a better film to kick off  “Messed Up Movie Month”.

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Categories: Reviews

Author:Ryan Crockett

Super-geek and cinephile, artist and writer, Ryan Crockett knows way too much about the French Revolution.

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