Sunday, June 3, 2012

No Love for "The Loved Ones"

I had the opportunity through my internship at Clevver Media to attend a free screening of the Australian horror film The Loved Ones a few days ago with the idea of writing a review for the Clevver Movies blog.

Unfortunately, my opportunity turned to misfortune as the movie progressed, so much so that I left the free screening and in so doing, nulled the possibility of writing a credible blog for my job. I will write my opinion of this movie for my own personal blog, so here it goes.

I have only left in the middle of a screening once before. It was also during a horror film - The Hills Have Eyes remake to be exact. Before my stomach shocking material is questioned, let me just add that A Clockwork Orange is one of my favorite films.

The problem with this movie is that the shocking material that was in the film served no purpose in questioning any social mores or making any kind of valid point. It was simply a feature length of gratuitous "torture porn" and disturbing material that was neither justified nor supported by the writing, acting or directing. It was shock value for the sake of shock value and because of that, a complete waste of time.

The movie is about a troubled teenage boy kidnapped on the night of his high school dance by an even more troubled classmate and her father after he turns down her request to go to the dance together.

It begins with the boy and his father having a bonding moment in the car that is quickly shattered when an injured naked man appears in the middle of the road, causing the boy to swerve into a tree and kill his father. We flash forward to him in high school a few months later, clearly troubled and on drugs. His unsightly but loving girlfriend and he share an intimate moment in the car that is uncomfortable to watch due to his razor blade necklace hanging dangerously close to her vagina. I had my eyes covered during this part expecting the worst, not realizing the worst would come much later in the movie.

We find out the boy has become a cutter in order to cope with his depression, and after a fight with his mother, we see him stomp down the street gripping the razor blade in his hand with blood running down his wrist. He walks to a cliff area and climbs the rocks to his secret spot. Oddly, after seeing him cut the hell out of his hand, he has no wounds during the scene which is a testament to the lack of continuity in the film. Before he has a moment to catch his breath from his climb, we see a man sneak up behind him and cover his mouth to pull him into a car trunk. The boy's dog is beaten, wounded and sent off to die.

We cut to a side story about the boy's best friend who asks the local Goth girl to the dance, and we see their relationship progress. Her father is the local sheriff who is soon called in to go searching for the protagonist. This side story will have no real tie-in to the main story in terms of action driving the plot forward. It simply serves as a reprieve from the main story.

We cut back to the house in the boonies and the creepy girl from earlier is in her bedroom gluing pictures of the protagonist into a scrapbook. Her room is filled with dolls and pink decor and she's listening to an angsty girl song about unrequited love called "Not Pretty Enough". Her father comes in, gives her a pink party dress and watches her undress with lustful eyes while she tries it on. They go to their kitchen which is decorated for a party and the protagonist is tied to a chair. To sum up the rest of what I saw, they threaten to hammer his dick to the chair unless he pees in front of them, he escapes his ties with the use of his razor blade and climbs a tree but they throw rocks at him and knock him out and drag him back into the kitchen. Disturbing dialogue, a zombie woman with a hole in her head, and violence ensued. I left after they got him out of the tree. The scene playing as I left the theater involved the father and daughter driving knives into his feet.

The problem about a film like this involves the lack of any kind of purpose for the action. The acting is wretched, so I felt no empathy for any character. The writing is bad with dialogue like, "[Your penis] is crying. I better kiss it make it better." The continuity and progression of events is inconsistent. And above all, with such disturbing content, it absolutely has to have a some kind of message that it's trying to convey. Instead, it is simply there just for the sake of existing. Therefore, it is uninteresting and not worth my time. Luckily, I did not pay anything to see it.

I don't require horror films to portray some kind of message about society. But I do prefer to watch movies, whether horror or another genre, to have some thought behind its execution.  Since this film lacked that, I had to pass.

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