Monday, February 6, 2012

Women in Horror: The Loved Ones

Brent Mitchell accidentally killed his father by crashing into a tree in an effort to avoid a dazed, bloody figure in the road. His guilt throws him into a depression where he is constantly reminded of his mistake with his mother’s mental breakdown. Marijuana and loud metal music are unsuccessful way of coping with the tragedy. The only light in his world is his girlfriend, Holly, who he plans to take to the prom. When Lola Stone, the quietest and most unassuming girl in school asks him to the prom, he nicely refuses, thinking nothing of it. Big mistake. The night of prom, he is knocked out and kidnapped. He wakes up in the prom night from hell, where a spoiled princess gets whatever she wants, even if it involves power drills, knives, and mutilation.

The Loved Ones is an odd, macabre film that fills me with delight. It combines the teen prom horror film and the twisted family horror with a feminine spin and some dark humor to make a unique, fun film. Lola Stone is a social outcast at school and her presence barely registers with classmates. The difference between her public and private persona is like night and day. She revels in the torture she inflicts on her victims with the help of her willing slave, Daddy. Lola is the most twisted spoiled child I’ve ever seen. She screams at and taunts her victims with Daddy and pouts when she doesn’t get her way. Other than the gleeful torture, she’s a normal teenage girl. Everything she owns is pink and sappy pop songs are all she listens to because she just wants a boyfriend. (I can never listen to Kasey Chamber’s Not Pretty Enough, Lola’s theme song, the same ever again after this movie.)  Her normal teen behavior with her penchant for carving her initials on her victims’ chest with a fork is odd and darkly comical. The scenes from her own personal prom are my favorite because the torture is only scratching the surface of this family’s psychosis and I find Lola’s special brand of crazy endearing. Robin McLeavy does an excellent job of portraying Lola’s sadism, femininity, and childishness without making her unlikeable or annoying at all.

One of the things that sets The Loved Ones apart from others in the genre is how it shows the effects of Lola’s actions in many different ways instead of just showing violence. Brent’s whole life is thrown into chaos and misery because a boy that escaped her caused him to swerve and kill his father. The side plot with the depressed goth girl and Brent’s friend going to the prom at first seems completely unnecessary. Near the end of the film, it becomes clear that the girl’s brother was the victim that Brent avoided in the road, tying all the characters together and showing the huge circle of pain and grief created by Lola and Daddy.

The Loved Ones is the result of taking two genre tropes and adding an unlikely monster like Lola, pitch black humor, and the effects of the villains’ actions outside of their torture chamber. The only flaw is that ending is a little too neat and convenient. This film is a pleasant surprise and I hope it is released in the US sometime very soon so I can add it to my film collection.

My rating: 9/10 fishmuffins

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