The Loved Ones is a 2009 Australian slasher romance film written and directed by Sean Byrne.
The film opens with our main character Brent (Xavier Samuel) driving with his father in the passenger seat, when a bloodied young man appears in the middle of the road. Swerving to avoid hitting the man, Brent’s vehicle collides with a tree.
Six months later, Brent is planning to attend a high school dance with girlfriend Holly (Victoria Thaine), having politely refused an offer by Lola Stone (Robin McLeavy). While his best friend, Jamie (Richard Wilson) has scored a date with the local goth girl, Mia Valentine (Jessica McNamee) for prom. After school he meets up with Holly and they have sex in her car while unknowingly Lola is watching them, looking hurt. Afterwards they go home although Holly drives the pair on account of the car crash, and it’s revealed that Brent’s father died in the accident. Wracked with guilt, Brent has turned to recreational cannabis use and self-mutilation with a razor blade he keeps on a necklace. Once home we witness an interaction with his mother that makes it clear she blames him for what happened. Brent leaves the house and climbs a nearby cliff; he contemplates suicide halfway, but then comes to his senses and climbs to the top.
While listening to music, Brent is attacked from behind. Bound to a chair, he wakes up at Lola’s house sitting at a table with Lola, her father (John Brumpton), and a lobotomized-woman they call Bright Eyes (Anne Scott-Pendlebury) . Lola’s father has turned his house into a dance for his daughter. Lola takes a syringe, fills it with bleach and injects it into Brent’s voice box to render him unable to scream or talk. She begins torturing Brent by forcing him to suck on her finger and threatening to nail his penis to the chair when he can’t urinate. When she makes a threatening comment about Holly, Brent kicks Lola and manages to escape outside. Lola’s father chases Brent up a tree, where he and Lola hurl rocks at Brent, knocking him down. The two bring Brent back inside, and nail his feet to the floor with knives.
Lola reveals via a scrapbook that she has been abducting many boys throughout her life; one victim in particular is Timmy Valentine, who Brent recognizes to be the bloody young man that he swerved in his vehicle six months ago to avoid hitting and led to his Father’s death. Timmy turns out to be the brother of Mia Valentine, the goth girl Jamie took to the dance. Afterwards Lola “draws” on Brent by using a fork to carve a heart with “L S” in the middle on his chest then throws salt onto the wound.
After being crowned Queen of her dance, Lola admits to Brent that she is just looking for her prince, which is not Brent as he is “just another frog”. She then takes her father’s hand and dances with him. While the two are distracted Brent plots his escape…
Will Brent make it out of there? Or are there more horrors to be discovered?
Against the blood and gore, the garish pink colour and upbeat music stands out. An image synonymous with innocence, but Lola Stone is anything but. A twisted and unconscionable girl with zero redeeming factors, whose motives are unclear if they exist at all. Out of all the horror films I’ve seen Lola very well could be the most truly evil villain ever. She has no sob story or moments of doubt, unlike many other villains whose problems lie in childhood, she’s clearly taken control of that by taking hold of her father and lobotomising her own mother.
I have to say that Lola really makes the movie, she makes you want to see her taken down and the ending is extremely satisfying to watch. Visually the (albeit limited) gore is fantastic and our other main character, Brent plays the victim perfectly. Just when you think his pain has finally come to an end, it’s still not over.
The bit that truly pushes the story beyond “just average” is the subplot happening during Brent’s kidnapping. You see Mia’s family and her suffering, and Brent’s own mother’s torn emotions between blame and grief. It shows the real impact Lola is making on these families with her little games. Lastly, due to the torturous nature of the movie, it helps that there are some comedic scenes (well comedic to a desensitized sicko like me) to add to the Stone family’s craziness.
The Loved Ones
The Final Score - 7/10
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