M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Last month, counted down my favorite horror films from my first year of reviewing. Now it’s on to Year Two which began officially on October 1, 2011 and went through September 30, 2012. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around a bit. I’ve even added a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!
How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st, 2011 and September 30, 2012 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number—31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Released on June 1, 2012 and available on Video On Demand, digital download, and DVD/BluRay!
THE LOVED ONES (2009)
Directed by Sean Byrne
Written by Sean Byrne
Starring Xavier Samuel, Robin McLeavy, John Brumpton, Richard Wilson, Victoria Thaine, Jessica McNamee, Andrew S. Gilbert, Suzi Dougherty, Victoria Eagger, Anne Scott-Pendlebury, Fred Whitlock, Leo Taylor, Stephen Walden, Igor Savin, Eden Porter, Tom Mahoney, Gulliver McGrath, Stevie-Lou Answerth, Liam Duxbury, & Jedda the Dog!
I can’t believe there aren’t more prom horror films. Sure there is CARRIE and PROM NIGHT and its sequels. Maybe I’m missing some, but THE LOVED ONES not only captures all of the nervousness and tension, but also provides basically the worst case scenario one could imagine encountering at the prom. While this one might have familiar leanings towards the unsavory torture porn era of the early oughts, THE LOVED ONES incorporates an ebony comedic tone, some ultra-gore, and some fantastically wicked set design to deliver one of the more memorable films of the decade.
The film centers around all-around good guy Brent (Xavier Samuel), a good looking loner who lost his father in a car crash while Brent was driving. The guilt of this weighs him into a world of isolation and drugs, but that doesn’t stop him from having a pretty girlfriend Holly (Victoria Thaine), an overburdened but caring mom, and a best friend—all of whom care about him greatly. While he already has plans to go to the upcoming dance with Holly, the quiet girl in school named Lola aka Princess (Robin McLeavy) plots to ask him to go to prom with her. When he declines, she ambushes him, tosses him in a trunk, and nails him to a chair to attend a prom in her living room with her Daddy (John Brumpton) and zombie-like mother Bright Eyes (Anne Scott-Pendlebury) as witnesses. Drugged, bound, and rendered mute, Brent fights to survive the night as Princess has a habit of getting sick of her boyfriends pretty quickly.
The good in THE LOVED ONES far outweighs the bad. While Brent is sort of an emo hipster who is down on himself despite a lot of good things going for him, it is interesting seeing him put through the ringer as a means to understand how good he’s got it. The ordeal Brent goes through at the hands of Princess Lola is truly horrific. She humiliates him, tortures him, and wraps him around his little finger. In many ways, this film is a power fantasy for those quiet gals in school so they can get a taste of retribution towards the guys who never noticed them in school. And while some may say that males have been doing this to women for ages in cinema, I don’t think one can poo poo it when it happens to women and cheer it when it happens to men. Still, Princess’ torture definitely made me feel bad for Brent when at first I thought it was impossible to care for the whiny teen.
I loved the twisted family aspect of the film with Princess’ home being just as twisted as she is. The lunacy of the family dynamic at play in her family makes the pink and purple prom decorations all the more surreal and nightmarish. I loved the inclusion of Bright Eyes, a lobotomized maternal figure who Princess dresses up like a ragdoll and roughly plays around with like she is a toy she has grown sick of. And I’ll leave what is in the basement unspoiled, but it’s another layer of craziness that elevates Princess’ formidability as a horror monster icon.
One of the things that bothers me about THE LOVED ONES is the unnecessary sideplot of Brent’s best friend Jamie who goes on a date with a punk rock gal Mia. Their date is loosely linked to the missing Brent and psychotic Princess storyline, but it feels more like padding added in to get to feature length as the two couples do not cross paths at all in the film. Sure it adds a little levity to some of the more ghoulish moments at Princess’ place, but it all feels rather necessary when you look back on the amount of time we spend with Jamie and Mia. They are great characters, but I wish they could have had something more to do with the main plot.
Before wrapping up, I will give a trigger warning that there is a pretty upsetting animal kill in THE LOVED ONES. I hate it when animals are killed in order to show how evil the bad guy is and felt the whole sequence was really unnecessary.
THE LOVED ONES does a great job of capturing the feeling of being an outcast in high school. Though filmed in Australia with Australian actors, it seems that raw, self-conscious, and self-indulgent feeling of being a teen is universal. While THE LOVED ONES takes it to extreme lengths, it channels some real emotion along with all of the heinous bits of torture, violence, and ghoulishness.
THE 2011-2012 COUNTDOWN!
#9 – THE LOVED ONES
#10 – CABIN IN THE WOODS
#11 – THE DIVIDE
#12 – HAROLD’S GOING STIFF
#13 – SOUND OF MY VOICE
#14 – COLD SWEAT
#15 – THE INNKEEPERS
#16 – THE PACT
#17 – V/H/S
#18 – OUTCAST
#19 – LITTLE DEATHS
#20 – JUAN OF THE DEAD
#21 – BLOOD JUNKIE
#22 – THE SNOWTON MURDERS
#23 – PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3
#24 – [REC]3 GENESIS
#25 – JULIA’S EYES
#26 – MOTHER’S DAY
#27 – EL PARAMO (THE SQUAD)
#28 – INBRED
#29 – THE SLEEPER
#30 – FATHER’S DAY
#31 – THE MOTH DIARIES
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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