Sean Byrne's feature film debut "The Loved Ones" is a cross between a romantic high- school comedy, a revenge movie and a go-for-broke horror film. Released in Australia after a tour through festival circuits, the film stars Robin McLeavy and Xavier Samuel as high school kids getting ready for prom while dealing with inner turmoil. Parents should be warned that this film is not appropriate for children.
"The Loved Ones" focuses on a shy and demented high school girl named Lola (Robin McLeavy) who asks Brent (Xavier Samuel) to the high school prom, only to be rejected. Brent has recently lost his father in a car crash, which he blames himself for, and has become a drug addict. Lola, feeling the sting of rejection, kidnaps Brent and holds him hostage with the help of her father. The rest of the film revolves around Brent being tortured while trying to escape from the clutches of Lola and her father, who give him a prom night he'll never forget.
"The Misery" Connection
"The Loved Ones" has shades of the film "Misery" which will not be overlooked by viewers who have seen both films. Both "Misery" and "The Loved Ones" feature a seemingly innocent girl who turns -- or has always been -- homicidal when the man she kidnaps refuses to see things her way. Both films also feature a police officer who almost comes to the rescue, only to be killed by the demented woman. Both films also have a comedic side to lighten the experience. The first act of the film focuses less on the torture, and more on high school life, which may remind some viewers of an early John Hughes film.
"The Loved Ones" has received positive reviews for the most part, earning a 96 percent fresh rating on Rottentomatoes.com. Dennis Harvey of "Variety" remarks that the film "transcends mere torture porn," a genre of horror film that includes movies such as "Hostel" and "Saw." However, despite the tongue-and-cheek attitude of the film, "The Loved Ones" is extremely violent and should not be viewed by younger audiences, or those who do not get a kick out of buckets of blood and extended scenes of violent torture.
Production and Release
While "The Loved Ones" was released theatrically in Australia on Nov. 4, 2010, it was never released theatrically in the United States. However, you can purchase a copy of the film on DVD, or rent it though NetFlix or at movie rental establishments. The film was shot on location in Melbourne and Victoria, Australia. Despite the fact that "The Loved Ones" was never released in theaters in the United States, it did play at the AFI Film Festival and the San Francisco International Film Festival.