Prom night can be torture

Directed by Sean Byrne and starring Robin McLeavy  as Lola/Princess, Xavier Samuel as Brent and John Brumpton as Daddy. Also stars Victoria Thaine as Holly, Jessica McNamee as Mia, Richard Wilson as Jamie, Suzi Dougherty as Carla, Anne Scott-Pendlebury as Bright Eyes and Jedda as Dog.

Australian horror The Loved Ones (2009) is one of those films horror fans keep hoping for but rarely get. It instantly jolts you out of the doldrums of too many films you’ve had to try a little bit too hard to like and puts a great big smile on your face. This isn’t the 70s or the 80s folks, this is the inbetweenies and the teenies and things definitely ain’t what they used to be; where films were once so bad they were good, now bad pretty much just means bad. Please, if you disagree with that statement, leave a comment; that’s how I see it anyway. But let’s not dwell on the bad, The Loved Ones is an out-and-out triumph.

Lola asks Brent if he’ll go to the dance with her. He’s going with Holly so he blows her out. Brent’s a pretty regular guy, I don’t mean he doesn’t have problems with his bowel movements, I mean he wears a Metallica T-shirt, smokes weed and seems to be a hit with the ladies. He certainly doesn’t have any problems with his bowel movements when Lola’s Daddy gets his hands on him, or at least he shouldn’t, Daddy and Princess are both 3 gallons of crazy in a 2 gallon bucket.

Now, for a start, this film comes complete with a great soundtrack, my favourite song on there easily being ‘Not Pretty Enough’ by Kasey Chambers; it just suits the film and the character of Lola so perfectly. Daddy and Princess really are the double act from hell and top marks to Robin McLeavy and John Brumpton for their performances; they steal the film with ease. While their relationship is not in any way similar to Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie in Carrie (1976) it definitely reaches that plain of perfect casting and delivery.

So, throw in a glitter ball, a pink satin party dress and a cordless power drill and prom night really can be torture. “Is it finger lickin’ good?” You bet your ass it is. Daddy and Princess are a match for the whole rotten family in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and that shouldn’t even be possible. Aside from outstanding performances, and everyone in this film does a great job, there’s a very Aussie vein of the blackest humour running through the whole film; Lola crowned prom queen by Daddy with a pink paper party hat is inspired and wonderfully twisted, and that’s just the tip.

If you haven’t seen it, you have to. The further into this prom night nightmare you sink, the darker it gets. It’s violent, gory, deliciously cruel and yet remarkably the focus stays on the characters and the story, now that’s pretty fucking impressive by any standard. The pacing is perfection and the finale is off the scale. Unmissable.