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The Loved Ones (2009)
Brent thinks his mother blames him for the accident. He has turned to pot and cutting himself to deal with his emotions. He even wears a razor blade on a chain around his neck. And this isn’t some Hot Topic razor blade necklace either – this is a real razor on a chain.
Shy girl Lola (Robin McLeavy) approaches Brent at his locker to ask him if he would go with her to the End of the School Year dance. But Brent is dating Holly (Victoria Thaine) so he declines. He’s not mean about it and even apologizes.
As Brent leaves the school, Holly is outside waiting for him, and she informs him that she just passed her driving test and got her license. Brent doesn’t drive anymore (his mother freaks out every time he gets in a car as it is) so Holly takes Brent home and tells him she will pick him up for the dance later in the evening.
At home, Brent and his mother get into an argument and Brent goes off with his dog, his headphones on, and his necklace clutched in his palm, blood pouring down his hand. Brent settles at the top of a bluff to smoke up, and since he’s listening to music, he doesn’t hear the man sneaking up behind him and he gets chloroformed.
His mother has tries to call him, but he didn’t answer, so she goes looking for him. Mia shows up at his house, ready for the dance just as his mother comes rushing back, in a state, wanting to know if Mia has seen Brent or knows where he is.
Where he is, is tied to a kitchen chair that is bolted to the floor at Lola’s house. Her father abducted him for her. Lola proceeds to inject something into Brent’s neck that looks like a household cleaning product and leaves him unable to talk… or scream. Lola is all dolled up, in a pink dress and new shoes that Daddy got for her. And she’s ready to have her very own twisted prom.
Back at Brent’s house Mia and his mother are freaking out because Brent’s dog has just appeared, dragging himself home in misery after being stabbed. I didn’t like this part. But Mia, I am liking more and more and more all the time – she jumps into her cool old school Volkswagen and speed off to the veterinary clinic. Sadly she doesn’t make it in time and the dog goes silent and still next to her. She pulls over to the side of the road and has a bit of a breakdown. I really like this girl.
And I’m liking Lola a lot less and less. She and her father proceed to mentally and physically torture Brent. I won’t go into details about what he endures, but it involves knives, a hammer, rocks, a fork, a drill, and being crowned king to Lola’s queen.
There is something that happens to Brent that caught me quite off guard and I was surprised the film went that far. It is almost immediately downplayed, which lead me to wonder about how realistically it is handled. If what happens to him did really happen would one be able to function as well as he does? It is quite possible the filmmakers did their research, but how it is plays out rings false, ruined my suspension of disbelief and blunted its impact. It was sort of like: Look what we just did! Can you believe it? But, never mind it wasn’t really that bad after all. Then why should I be shocked by it?
The performances were all good, with Victoria Thaine being the real standout. She is amazing – she has looks and charisma, and talent to back it all up. I want to see more of her. The character of Lola was written in such a way that I never felt sorry for her. I would have liked to see more vulnerability. Instead she is just a crazy harpy and we never get any sadness, any of the girl inside the lunatic. If she had been a more sympathetic character, that we could relate to, the film would have been much more effective. But it isn’t the fault of the actress, who does an admirable job, rather the script which saddles her with a one-note character.
The editing is way too frenetic at times and made the film feel a little amateurish. I did like the ending, but the script jumped the rails getting there, becoming increasingly implausible. Still, we have a mostly solid effort which it is much better than the majority of the torture porn that has been unleashed on us. C+