Thursday, November 4, 2010

Candidate # 2


(September 2009)

Aussie horror plants a flag for next year’s ¡Qué Horror! rundown with Sean Byrne’s feature debut, The Loved Ones, a film for all those iconoclasts who ever thought that prom was just some antiquated tradition best left by the cultural wayside.
“Prom is Hell”? In The Loved Ones, that truly is the case, as we bear witness to the Worst Prom Date captured on film since Sissy Spacek got all dolled up just to take a shower in pig’s blood.

Writer/director Byrne triumphs on a number of fronts with The Loved Ones, beginning with the fact that he’s able to counterpoint the blood and brutality with genuine emotional pain and mental anguish (and not just from the film’s main protagonist, played by Xavier Samuel).
Also, The Loved Ones isn’t just about the teen-agers. There’s a significant adult presence in the film, as we’re shown the strained dynamic between parents who no longer seem to understand their rebellious offspring, and children who feel a complex welter of emotion towards these estranged dinosaurs who sired and raised them, when the truth is, that both sides are reeling from the same pain.

There’s also a disturbing parent-child relationship here that, unsettling though it admittedly is, is still grounded in a sick and twisted sort of love.

So Byrne not only delivers the shock and the gore, he also populates the narrative with characters with actual thoughts and feelings, as opposed to the one-dimensional sketches we sometimes see in horror films.

All that, while establishing that not all the “weirdoes” and “losers” we know (regardless of age) share the same sort of scars; some could very well be psychopathic, that’s always a possibility, but some will really be just troubled and traumatized individuals, trying to numb the pain the best way they know how…

(The Loved Ones OS courtesy of

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