Starring: Xavier Samuel, Robin McLeavy, Victoria Thaine
Director: Sean Byrne
Running Time: 84 mins
The Loved Ones is an Australian film about a girl who kidnaps and tortures a boy from her school after she rejected her when she asked if she could go to the prom with him.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a horror movie featuring a bit of gore. Or even a lot of gore. But when going for gruesome thrills, you need a bit of depth to back it up, something that The Loved Ones unfortunately doesn’t manage, with a story that doesn’t exactly go anywhere after the first act.
The premise is simple enough. A nerdier girl at school asks a popular boy out to the prom. He says no, and she later takes revenge by kidnapping and torturing him. And that’s pretty much the crux of it all for an hour and a half, with very little in the story to make for a more captivating watch.
Let’s start with the positives, however, particularly with the fact that this film certainly doesn’t hold back when it comes to gore and violence. I’ve said that The Loved Ones is a little too gruesome for its own good, but if you’re a fan of intensely violent horror, then there’s a lot to appreciate here.
What’s more, while I didn’t take to it quite as kindly, the film’s violence doesn’t necessarily feel gratuitous or malicious like some kind of video nasty from the 1970s. It’s very much pushing the boundaries, but the discomfort it provides is all part of the film’s own intentions.
However, it seems that The Loved Ones is so concerned with pushing those boundaries to the full that it doesn’t spend enough time or effort on telling a genuinely engrossing story over the course of its entire runtime.
The fact of the matter is that the screenplay here is really weak from the very beginning, with a rather dull opening act that’s only brought to life when the violence starts, although that’s a narrative novelty which wears off pretty quickly soon after.
What follows is an hour and a half of sadistic violence with little dramatic depth behind it. There are a couple of side characters who feel almost entirely irrelevant to the main action, and there’s so little dialogue that it’s difficult to really engage with the main characters on screen.
As a result, The Loved Ones ends up as a rather boring watch that’s just a bit too gruesome for its own good. While its audacity with its violence is admirable to an extent, the film misses the mark with a disappointing story that proves a dull watch throughout. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 6.3 overall.