Angry Woman July is almost done and I would miss it, but for the fact next month is officially Shark Month on our blogs. Our favourite subgenre of horror!
It’s been a ride though and we sign off this month with an unrequited love story which may have you rooting for the men in this film for a change. Well some of them, let’s not go crazy.
THE LOVED ONES (2009)
Hell hath no fury … like a prom queen scorned.
When Brent turns down his classmate Lola’s invitation to the prom, she concocts a wildly violent plan for revenge.
Director: Sean Byrne
Starring: Xavier Samuel, Robin McLeavy
Genre: Horror, Crime ∙ IMDB user rating: 6.6
My score: 4/5 ∙ Runtime: 84 mins
TW: Animal violence, torture detail, suggestion of sexual abuse & incest
Love hurts but rejection is way worse, let’s face it. So what’s a geeky greasy-haired girl to do when the object of her affection says no to a polite prom invitation? As you may have gathered from the synopsis above, our antagonist decides to choose violence as a retort – and takes us on a cringe-inducing vengeance trip.
A little backstory:
Brent (Samuel) is driving with his dad after freshly passing his test. Out of nowhere a bloody boy appears in the road and causes Brent to swerve, hitting a tree and killing his old pa. Several months later he’s not in the best shape, nor is his mother, who fears something happening to her son – but she also appears to blame his inexperience for the accident.
Fond of being stoned and alone (IKR?), Brent isn’t super psyched for prom but is attending with his girlfriend Holly (Victoria Thaine). His best friend Jamie (Richard Wilson) meanwhile is interested in beautiful Goth Mia (Jessica McNamee) and is thrilled when she says yes to being his date.
So when Princess asks Brent to take her to prom, he politely declines – and all is fine in the world. Except of course it isn’t and he goes missing hours later, seemingly into thin air, much to his mother’s distress.
At Princess’ family home – which she shares with her father and a woman called Bright Eyes (who may or may not be her mother) – it becomes clear Brent has been kidnapped to attend her perfect version of prom, whether he likes it or not. This is horrifying enough until she reveals Brent isn’t her first house guest. Remember the bloody boy from the beginning?
Alas, Brent only manages to disappoint Princess by trying to run away – and she’s forced to torture him for his sins. As the horror ramps up, Brent is forced to choose whether or not to fight back – and Mia’s dad – a local policeman – is driven by something personal to find Brent before it’s too late.
This is a mean-spirited, grimy film. Princess is awful, her father is disgusting but somehow sympathetic at times and the whole scene is nasty af – and yet I find myself liking it. In fact, it goes quite far in making us root for Brent’s escape – he’s the perfect example of the final boy, a trope we don’t see too often. When we learn the fate of Princess’ former
dates victims, this need for him to survive is fully exacerbated. Ugh.
In contrast to Brent, I do find it odd that we don’t get much backstory for Princess. She is heinous but we don’t see anything about her in the school environment and certainly nothing that really justifies her nutso behaviour. I get that some people are just psychotic but there’s no obvious driving force beyond the fact boys don’t seem to like her much.
At the same time there’s an obvious suggestion of sexual abuse/incest which seems to be driven by Princess – I’d like to have understood that better AND we’re left only to imagine how Bright Eyes ended up the way she is and why. I have a huge question mark over her story.
It’s not that deep but does explore teenage grief and survivors guilt well – and also addresses the idea of fight or flight in the face of terror. Brent has spent so much time since his father’s death numbing the pain, that it would be forgivable for him to give in to Princess’ plan. I’m pretty sure I’d lean into the kiss of sweet, sweet death myself.
I really enjoy the way this film looks. It somehow has an eighties feel while not being set in the eighties and I love, love Princess’ pink prom dress. There is a side story set around Jamie and Mia which feels a bit tagged on but does go some way to illustrating how Princess and her family’s antics have affected the community – and ties into Mia’s dad’s motivation to return Brent back to his mother in one piece.
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