The Loved Ones (2009): Oddness in the Outback

Every once in a great while you bump into a film that shows not only the underbelly of its protagonists but does it so well that the film becomes unforgettable. Written and directed by Sean Byrne, The Loved Ones is his first feature length film. Considering that this is his first time at bat, he has hit a home run that equals the performance of the legendary Babe Ruth.

Starring Xavier SamuelRobin McLeavy and John Brumpton the film shows three dysfunctional families and their problems. Firstly, we have Brent (Samuel) who is driving home with his dad after just getting his license. As he and his dad exchange banter, Brent takes his eyes off the road and when he looks back up he sees a bloody man standing in front of their car. Swerving he crashes into a tree.

Six months later we learn that Brent’s dad died in the crash and that Brent is planning on attending his high school prom with his long-term girlfriend Holly (Victoria Thaine). We also learn that Brent’s mother is still trying to cope with her husbands death. At school while Brent is getting things out of his locker a girl named Lola (Robin McLeavy) asks him to the prom. Replying that he will be going with Holly, but “thanks for asking,” he then goes out to meet with Holly in the car park.

It turns out that Brent is having a hard time dealing with his father’s death. He wears a razor blade  around his neck for self harming and he likes to feel close to death. It is while he is rock climbing that someone comes up behind him and knocks him out. The same person breaks his mobile phone and tries to kill his dog.

When Brent regains conciousness he is tied to a chair and Lola, who is now called Princess by her father, is having her own private prom at home and Brent is her unwilling date. After injecting him with bleach to freeze his vocal cords, she and her doting father begin a long night of torture.

In the meantime, Brent’s friend Jamie (Richard Wilson) is taking ‘goth chick’ Mia (Jessica McNamee) to the Prom. Mia’s dad is the local police constable and she is uncommunicative and seems to exist to only take drugs, drink alcohol, and have sex. Jamie is about as socially inept as they come and the two provide a lot of the movies lighter moments.

This film has some of the most cringe worthy moments I have ever seen in a film. It also has about the best cast possible. Princess’s father manages to repulse you and then make you feel pity for his character. Princess, aka Lola, just oozes insanity that has been brought about from her father not being able to say no to any request she makes.

Brent manages to make the damage that Bruce Campbell as Ashe goes through in the Evil Dead trilogy look like a walk in the park. The fact that he makes his suffering look all too real really helps to sell the film.

Special kudos to John Brumpton as Lola’s Daddy. This man manages to almost steal the show with his performance.

John Brumpton as Daddy.

By the end of the film Byrne manages to tie all the families together as we the audience realise that Princess’s madness has touched them all.

I rate just how good a film is by how I feel after I’ve just watched it. The Loved Ones fell into the category of ‘I need to see this one again!’ Australia has a brilliant knack of making horror films that stick with you. The cast lists are small and intimate and the characters so richly developed that you bond with them and really care about what happens to them.

I cannot wait to see what Sean Byrne has planned for us next.

Director Sean Byrne.

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

10 thoughts on “The Loved Ones (2009): Oddness in the Outback”

  1. Nice write up Mike. I reviewed this myself not long ago, really enjoyed it. And Snowtown (which someone mentioned above) is my most viewed review ever. Brilliant but brutal film. Aussies really do know their horror!


  2. Yay! Go Australian film!
    I saw this one at The Astor Theatre, Australia’s only dedicated single screen cinema (it’s a beautiful ancient heritage-listed building with chandeliers and a grand piano in the foyer and ushers in waistcoats), when it came out. I thought it was fantastic. The leads did an amazing job and it creeped me in the extreme.
    Lots of Australians don’t rate Australian movies, but I think that happens when people compare Oz cinema to American cinema. I think of our cinema as part of the ‘world’ film schema; if we try to copy Hollywood it fails miserably. I like when our films revert to their home base of considered, enigmatic, ambient stories.
    My favourite Australian film is Noise (2007) written & directed my Matthew Saville. The opening scene alone is just…woah. I can’t tell you how massive an impact it has to see a scene like that set in such a familiar place for the first time. Another one which is pretty incredible & recent (I think it won some awards at Cannes?) is Snowtown, based on the true ‘bodies in the barrels’ murders which happened near Adelaide a few years ago.


  3. Wow, this sounds pretty messed up, but definitely intriguing. Something tells me ‘Daddy’ is gonna really throw me for a loop when I see him on-screen, judging from what you’ve already said. The picture of him reminds me of another creepy dad from another horror film, though I can’t remember what it was. :/ Anyway, good stuff as usual, Mike! 😀


  4. I’ll be reviewing this one quite soon, myself. So, I’m going to read this one after I watch and not before, Hope you understand.


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