The Loved Ones - Blu-ray Review

'plys a brave line in brutality and gore but at its core it's banal. This is ostensibly torture porn with a touch more wrapping'

First time writer/director Sean Byrne's The Loved Ones plys a brave line in brutality and gore but at its core it's banal. This is ostensibly torture porn with a touch more wrapping, which never gets round to exploring the ideas that bubble beneath its plot, thinly conceived and wrapped up in well under ninety minutes.

This is a shame because the wrapping Byrne places around his film is bright, shiny and, occasionally, beautiful. Lola's (Robin McLeavy) pink dress sizzles with teen angst against a backdrop of a revolving glitter ball, the school prom and a lot of crimson blood. Throughout, the nothing-short-of-amazing soundtrack pumps with a mix of Australian pop classics and underground hits even Google can't find for you. If Byrne decides to give up writing and directing any time soon he has a bright future as a DJ. Ollie Olsen's industrial, threatening, score complements the overall sound design nicely.

For all its aesthetics though, Byrne's film needs so much more plot than it gets. Lola and her psychopathic Father (John Brumpton) kidnap school hottie Brent (Xavier Samuel) because, well, they're a little mad really. The Texas Chainsaw massacre is referenced directly (running through hanging clothes, natch) but this has nowhere near the depth Tobe Hooper's effort managed from such simple beginnings. Eventually it thins out into a grim crawl through torture-by-household instruments, Dad proving to be in possession of some rather odd skills, Samuel proving himself to be in possession of a good pair of a lungs and a slightly unearthly scream.

There's subtext here about the reliance of teens on their parents, despite representations to the contrary; Brent has lost his Father and, partially, his way, Lola's Dad is her partner in crime, Mia's (Jessica McNamee) shoulders the blame for her deviance having failed to find her lost brother. Brent's ordeal with Lola is juxtaposed with Mia's difficult trip to the school prom, the unassuming Jamie (Richard Wilson) in tow. Its true that teens have to go through several hardships to make it out of high school/college, but the comparison of dancing with having a craft knife hammered through one's foot feels too obtuse to register.

At just eighty-four minutes, there's no way this should have managed to drag on, but the middle section is directionless and the end features a reveal its impossible to care about. Lola is demented but not enough to carry all of this and her Father, if anything, actually weakens her characterisation. The young cast do well but this needed a lot more than gore to score on its prom.


  1. Unfortunately, most of the fans of the film are only concerned with the gore and the basic premise. Everything else is padding.

  2. Yes, if that's what you're after then its fine but I like a little more plot with my horror.