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Movies From the Black Lagoon: The Loved Ones

Movies From the Black Lagoon
The Loved Ones - 2012, Rated R
By Tom Doty
Weekly Contributing Writer

A depressed teenager winds up having the worst prom night ever when he is imprisoned by a psychotic classmate in this chiller from down under.
Surprisingly this grim shocker opens with a very touching scene during which we meet our hero, Brent. He is first seen driving his father home and engaging in a playful conversation about their polar opposite tastes in music. Unfortunately their Maxwell House moment is interrupted when a bloodied teen stumbles into the road forcing them to crash into a tree.
Cut to six months later and Brent is not the same. Now he is unkempt, somewhat dazed, and rocks long sleeves to hide the self-inflicted wounds he regularly razors onto his arms. His mother is paranoid about letting him get into cars but his girl friend, Holly, just got her license and he pair plan to tell mom they are driving to the prom. Brent is also more popular than he knows. He gets an invite to the dance from the socially awkward Lola and must let her down easy.
Mom doesn't take the prom news well and insists on them taking a cab. In the ensuing argument Brent bolts form the house and goes to his quiet place. Sadly a psychopath who drugs him and flees with Brent in the trunk of his car is staking it out. He comes to and finds he is tied to a chair in a family room. He is not alone either.
Lola is there and dressed to the nines. So is her dad, who rocks a nasty looking hammer, and mom, who rocks a hammer dent in her forehead, which probably accounts for her dazed expression. It appears that daddy gets Lola whatever she wants and what she wants is a prom in her house (complete with disco ball) and Brent as her date.
The night quickly degenerates from this festive atmosphere into a torture session right out of "Hostel." Brent tries to get away on several occasions but only incurs more punishment such as rocks thrown at his head; a hole drilled in his skull, and knives pounded though is feet. He must also suffer the humiliation of agreeing to all of her Lola's requests and telling her whatever she wants to hear since her dad is standing behind her with an assortment of power tools.
Meanwhile Holly tries to help Brent's mom deal with his disappearance, which they both attribute to his low mood. Back at the prom Brent's pal Jamie is having a heck of a time with his Goth date, Mia. These scenes have nothing to do with Brent's fate but they are a pleasant diversion from all of the dark goings on even if they play like a nightmarish version of a John Hughes movie.
The only way Brent is getting out of this is to free himself but that prospect appears dubious when he is tossed into a basement/prison where previous houseguests have been penned and are half crazed from hunger and the trauma of an evening with Lola and dad.
This one works because you care about what happens to Brent. The film is smart to spend more time on Brent and let Lola remain a mystery. You never find out what drove this family around the bend and that adds to the sense that anything can happen. The film also earns points for not dragging out the ending. This could easily have been one of those "she's dead, no she's not" duds that limps to its traditional ending but writer/director Sean Byrne resists the temptation to hit you over the head with how many horror movies he's seen.
Australia is definitely making the better, and more original, horror flicks these days. Check this one out if you want a take on the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" sort of horror flick but are tired of remakes. Byrne manages to retain the feeling of a 70s fright fest without relying on all of the tricks you've seen before. He gets to have his prom cake and eat it too.
Best Lines: "You're my first drilling."
"Bring the hammer daddy."
"The trick is not to go too far. Just enough to break through the skull."

Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to:

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