SXSW Film '10 — The Loved Ones

Imagine of John Hughes directed Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Now punch yourself in the face for wasting valuable time imagining when you could be watching The Loved Ones, an Australian torture porn movie with a wicked sense of humor.

The torture porn genre has become increasingly stale in recent years — relying on pure shock value and value-sized bins of fake blood to capture audiences’ attention instead of putting together a quality script with something new to say.

All too often, the genre collapses under the weight of its own gravitas. By sucking out all the wit of movies with such dark and dreary subject matter, films such as Saw and The Strangers almost dare audiences to enjoy the film.

Writer/director Sean Byrne makes a smart decision when filming The Loved Ones. Without skimping on the blood, guts and scenes of gratuitous brain drilling, Byrne made a fun flick — if fun is even the right word to describe a movie that features the best use of feet torture since Misery.

Xavier Samuel plays Brent Mitchell, a hunky teen heartthrob who, still morning the death of his father, winds up tied to a chair and tortured by Lola (Robin McLeavy) and her father.

With a cherub-like face and dressed in full-prom attire, Lola is the best slasher film killer I have seen in a long time.

McLeavy is amazing as Lola, a sugary sweat princess of a girl who comes off as a flesh-and-blood version of Tiny Toon Adventure‘s Elmyra.

Instead of wanting to hug pets and squeeze them into itty-bitty pieces, though, Lola wants to tie her playground crush to a chair, inject him with Drano to stifle his screams and carve pretty pictures into his chest with a fork.

Before you start thinking me crazy for describing a film like The Loved Ones as fun, let me assure you the film embraces gallows humors the way most horror films embrace topless chicks. Lola is played as Michael Myers in a prom dress — gleefully slashing and hacking at the man of her dreams as she giggles and sweetly sings pop songs into his ear.

Technically, The Loved Ones has it all: great cinematography by Simon Chapman, top-notch acting from the film’s cast and a clever twist on a tired sub-genre of horror flicks.

It’s movies such as The Loved Ones that help to rejuvenate the horror fan — reminding them why they fell in love with the genre in the first place. It’s scary and thrilling, sure, but it is also a lot of fun to watch. You have a hero you can cheer for, a villain you can hiss at and enough gore-tinged laughs to keep you grinning ear to ear as Lola comes up with even more terrible things to do to her teenage angel.

The Loved Ones comes highly recommended.

Category: Midnighters
Director: Sean Byrne

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The South by Southwest film festival will be held in Austin from March 12 through the 20th. For more information about attending the festival and the films being shown, visit www.sxsw.com/film.

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