Lola: "Will you go to the dance with me?"
Brent: "Sorry Lola, I'm going with Holly."
By politely turning down Lola's request, little does troubled teenager Brent realise he has just angered a vicious psychopath - one who has a vengeful nature and a passion for pink glitter and sugary pop songs. Brent is abducted by Lola's father, and soon finds himself tied to a chair in their house, a part of Lola's special personal prom night. This includes all the trimmings - like balloons and a disco mirror ball - plus a few less conventional elements that use power tools, hammers and hypodermic needles...
Visually the film is actually quite interesting. The photography throughout is beautiful and impressive, and there is much use of kitsch imagery, which contrasts dramatically with the extreme violence taking place. And despite the high level of violence, the director has the skill of making you believe you've seen a far gorier film than you actually have. It also has a strong soundtrack, with effective choices of music/song to enhance particular scenes and events.
Lola makes for an intriguing villain, and although Xavier Samuel gets the top billing (as Brent), the film really belongs to Robin McLeavy. When her character alternates between childlike 'Princess' (with her glittery scrap books and dolls) to psychopathic torturer, she is equally believable in both roles.
The film creates tension well, and it's hard not to squirm at some of the scenes. There's a sequence involving someone urinating into a drinking glass which is particularly tense and hard to watch. And there is a revelation about the cellar later in the story which adds a disturbing twist (and possibly a reference to The Evil Dead).
On the downside, the action is often broken up by scenes of Brent's clumsy friend Jamie who is out on a date with goth chick Mia. This other plotline may be intended to provide some comic relief, but interrupts the flow of the story and I mostly found the scenes distracting and unfunny. The film also seems to try too hard to shock sometimes, and I found the humour a bit forced and annoying on occasion.
Having said that, The Loved Ones is still a wonderfully disturbing piece of work, with great performances, imaginative horror set pieces, and decent production values. It does have some problems and a few plot holes, but on the whole it's still shocking, thrilling and entertaining. 3.5/5