The Loved Ones tells the tale of that girl we all knew back in high school who was shy but kinda cute, and maybe a little socially awkward, and also kidnapped boys she liked in order to torture them along with her father who she is almost definitely having an incestual relationship with. Fuckin’ high school man, I’ll never forget it.
The Loved Ones is an Australian movie from 2009 that is just now seeing a North American release. Before seeing it I saw many people label it as “torture porn” which definitely decreased my desire to watch it. I, as well as a lot of us I’m sure, have been done with the whole torture porn scene for a while. There’s just no real thrill to most of them. It’s just watching horrible shit happen to everyone for 90 minutes and then maybe they get away but probably not, credits! I’ll give you torture since well, a great deal of the movie is spent watching someone be tortured. But the porn part I can’t give you. There’s a whole lot more going on here than just watching unpleasant shit happen to anyone and everyone.
The movie’s premise is quite simple. Our lead is asked to the end of school dance by this girl Lola and turns her down. What’s a little unique is that he’s not an asshole about it, as most characters in these movies would be. He doesn’t laugh or make fun of her, he just politely says that he’s going with his girlfriend and no thanks. Oh if only he knew this particular girl is out of her god damn mind and likes carving people up with forks and yelling nonsense about porky pies and finger lickin’ good then hey, maybe he would have agreed to take her.
So he’s kidnapped by her father and tied to a chair in their living room which has been set-up to look like a dance, complete with disco ball and prom suits/dresses. From there on, some shit happens that I won’t go into since I didn’t know anything that was going to take place, and you shouldn’t either damn it. I will say that this movie goes to some places you will not expect. Except incest town, I already spoiled that it sorta makes a stop there. The rest though, you’ll just have to watch it, and I really recommend that you do.
That sounded like the end but I have more to say it turns out. The acting is pretty great, with Lola being a particular standout since it would be incredibly easy for her character to be far too over the top. I appreciate that her character doesn’t have that moment where she explains why she’s the way she is. She’s just fucked up, and clearly has been for a very long time. The lead actor (turns out I don’t ever feel like looking up people’s names) is damn impressive considering he barely gets to speak for the entirety of the movie. Everything is made more intense because you really are rooting for this guy. His mouth remains on his own face and not on someone else’s anus, but the guy still goes through hell and he seems like a pretty good dude so you want him to get out and just destroy these people. Oh also there’s this side story where his stoner friend is taking a goth girl to prom that at first seems completely disconnected (it often acts as levity against the terrible events happening to our lead) but starts to integrate into the main story as things go on. The movie never over explains anything, just gives you the dots and allows you to make the connections.
The Loved Ones is a pleasant surprise that I definitely recommend. Don’t let the torture porn label fool you. You’ll see some nasty shit but much of it happens off camera. The movie is tense, the plot remains interesting and the characters are engaging. I appreciate a movie where I’m never sure what’s going to happen next, so for that alone, The Loved Ones is a goodie.