Friday, July 27, 2012

The Loved Ones

Take the magic of prom night and combine it with the family from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and you have an idea of what to expect from The Loved Ones, a terrific horror movie from Australia.

A short synopsis: Brent and his father get into a car wreck and his father is killed.  Six months later we find Brent cutting himself and self-medicating as he deals with the loss of his father, as well as his perception that his mother blames him for the death of his father.  He is also dating a very nice girl named Holly.  Prom is the next night and he plans on attending with Holly.  Another girl in school – Lola – asks Brent to go, but he turns her down (but he’s really nice about it). 

But Lola is insane.  So – nice rejection or no – she has Brent kidnapped and taken back to her house, where she proceeds to dress him in a tux, tie him to a chair, and inject bleach into his throat so he can’t talk/scream.

And you can probably tell where the movie goes from there.  There is a lot of torture.  There are a number of escape attempts by Brent.  More torture.  And Lola being crazy.  Sweet bearded Moses is Lola crazy.  The actress plays crazy so well that I have to assume that she herself is actually a little unhinged.  You can’t play crazy that well without being a little crazy yourself (using this logic, after watching American Psycho, I’m terrified of ever meeting Christian Bale).

This is what I wondered about after the movie was over: how did Lola fit into everyday life?  Was she just the awkward loner in school?  We don’t really see much of her early in the movie, and it’s obvious from the events that take place that she is off-her-rocker crazy (and has been for quite some time).  The kind of crazy that it’s hard to hide.  The kind of crazy that doesn’t know there’s anything to hide.  But she was obviously able to survive in this world by hiding the crazy to some degree.  Still, after watching this movie, I just kept thinking, “How did she hide it?  How did she interact with other people?”   Certainly they had their suspicions that something was wrong, beyond the standard “Well, she’s just a little odd” response…right?  Beyond the whole “crazy torturer” thing, she also has more than a hint of “madly in incestuous love with my father” thing going on, and that kind of thing tends to get noticed, especially in a small town (it is never said how big the town is, but it seems to be pretty small).

This isn’t Dexter Morgan we’re talking about.  Dexter knows there’s something wrong with him, and tries hard to hide that part of himself so that he can fit in.  Lola is the kind of girl who thinks it is perfectly acceptable to walk down the road in a pink prom dress, covered in blood and holding a knife.  In broad daylight.  Lola is a special kind of crazy, and you can’t hide that level of crazy.
I don’t know why, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that since the movie ended.  I would watch a 10 minute scene of Lola interacting with people in school, just to see how well she is able to pull it off.

I think that’s about enough of my Lola-musings.

I really loved this movie.  It was a little different.  It was a little disturbing, but not in a “shock value” kind of way.  There was quite a bit of torture, and, while it wasn’t nearly as graphic as Saw, it also wasn’t exactly Saturday morning cartoons, either.  There was a lot of blood.  There were a lot of moments that made me cringe, but there weren’t any sickening moments that made me want to turn it off. 

This seemed pretty “bright” for a horror movie.  While a lot of the movie happened at night, they were usually in a well-lit house (there was another storyline going at the same time as Brent’s torture, involving Brent’s friend and a goth girl at the prom, and those scenes seemed to look much darker than the torture scenes).  And there was also the matter of Lola’s pink dress.  It’s hard for a room to look dark when that pink dress is there…even if the person in that pink dress happens to be holding a drill.

I realize I have brought up “torture” a lot, but this is by no means a torture porn.  This is a well-crafted horror movie with a decent dash of humor (at least, I laughed a number of times.  Not sure if that was the correct response or not).  There were moments that really did remind me of (the original) Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but that might just be my normal reaction when I see a bunch of crazy people sitting around a table.

This also took the idea of the survivor girl and turned it around.  Brent made a tremendous survivor girl.  He did pretty much everything imaginable to escape the clutches of Lola and her maniac father.  He kicks, climbs trees, slashes faces, and a does many more things that I won’t mention for fear of venturing into spoiler territory.  Sure, he gets a little help along the way, but he is most definitely a fighter.

It had a great mood throughout, good characters, terrific acting, and a tremendous soundtrack (they made perfect – and recurring – use of Kasey Chambers’ “Not Pretty Enough”).  You really need to see The Loved Ones.

Rating: 5/5

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