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Film / The Loved Ones

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"Bring the hammer, Daddy."

The Loved Ones is a Australian black comedy horror film written and directed by Sean Byrne in his feature directorial debut. It was screened at various film festivals during 2009 and 2010, eventually receiving a theatrical release in the United States during the summer of 2012 through Paramount's Insurge Pictures label.

While on a drive with his father, high school senior Brent Mitchell ends up swerving his car and is unable to regain control before it wraps around a tree. While Brent survives, his father dies in the crash, and the combination of his pain and guilt alongside the emotional collapse his mother undergoes has serious effects on him.

Six months after the accident, the end-of-year school dance is on the horizon. Although Brent plans to go with his girlfriend Holly, he’s approached one day by the meek, shy Lola Stone, and turns her down when she asks him to be her date.

She doesn't take it too well.

Brent gets abducted shortly after, and regains consciousness tied to a chair inside Lola's house, where she and her father (whom obsessively dotes over her) are throwing a dance of their own, and she plans on making her personal king pay dearly for rejecting her — with excruciating force.

This movie contains the following tropes:

  • Abusive Offspring: Even before murdering her, Lola is shown yanking out the hair of her lobotomized mother.
  • Agony of the Feet: Lola's father drives knives through Brent's feet, which is shown in graphic detail.
  • Almost Kiss: Between Lola and her father. They get inadvertently interrupted by Brent.
  • And This Is for...: When Lola's father's hammers knives through Brent's feet to nail them to the floor, his final blow is accompanied by "And that's for the Kingswood!", Kingswood being the model name of the car Brent landed on when he fell out of the tree while trying to escape.
  • Auto Erotica:
    • Early in the film, Brent and Holly have sex in Brent's car...with Lola watching.
    • During the school formal, Jamie and Mia are busted by a teacher while having sex in the backseat of Jamie's car. The teacher is mainly offended that they chose to engage in such activity while in the school parking lot.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Both Lola and her father; however, there is a major difference. Lola seems quiet and shy at first, but is actually very loud and wicked once Brent is captured. Her father, on the other hand, seems very reserved and quiet in personality, even when doing horrible things.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Brent is able to kill Lola and her father and escape Lola's house; in a wider sense, as the man who caused Brent's car accident was one of Lola's victims, he is also able to avenge his father's death. However, there's no doubt that on top of probably being mute for the rest of his life due to having bleach injected in his vocal cords, he will be deeply traumatized from his experiences.
  • Bunker Woman:
  • Call-Back: Brent swerves his car to avoid Holly and (inadvertently) crash into Lola head-on once he readjusts in much a similar manner as him swerving in the attempt to avoid the man in the road that led to the crash that killed his father.
  • Calling Card: Lola marks all her "dates" by carving a love heart and her initials into their bare chests...with a fork. This enables Brent to realize that his car crash was caused by one of Lola's previous victims.
  • Captive Date: Lola has Brent kidnapped so that she can have the perfect prom with him.
  • Carved Mark: The hearts, detailed above under Calling Card.
  • Car Cushion: Lola and her father force Brent out of a tree by throwing rocks at him. He loses his grip on the branch, falls out of the tree, and lands painfully on the bonnet of the Kingswood ute before bouncing off.
  • Car Hood Sliding: Attempted by Jamie to impress Mia when they arrive at the school dance. He doesn't slide all the way and falls onto the ground.
  • Car Fu: How Lola meets her end by Brent, first by being hit head-on, then having the bumper reversed directly into her face after he hears her dragging her knife on the road and realizes she's still alive.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The opening scene where Brent is driving in the car with his father, and has a crash in which his father dies. It's initially used to explain why Brent's in such a depressed frame of mind. During his torture, Brent has a flashback to the crash, realizing it wasn't his driving at fault; Brent actually swerved to avoid one of Lola's "past boyfriends", who she later mentions somehow escaped from the basement.
    • The razor blade Brent uses in an early scene for self-harm. He uses it to cut himself free of his bonds, making his first, but ultimately unsuccessful, escape attempt.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In an early scene, Brent is shown climbing up a cliff successfully without any equipment, planning to throw himself from the top but not going through with it, including a shot where he pulls himself up almost by his fingertips. This is how he escapes the basement once Lola heads out and leaves the trapdoor open, by piling up the bodies of her victims and pulling himself through the opening.
  • Child Supplants Parent: Lola towards Bright Eyes. She is clearly jealous and hateful to her mother, and wants her father to love her back. After her father's death, she makes sure to kill her mother, which is something she likely wanted to do a long time ago.
  • Daddy's Girl: This is a major understatement in Lola and her father's case. Besides just helping her commit her tortures and kidnappings, Lola sees her father as her "true prince" and they even had an Almost Kiss.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Say no to Lola because you already have a girlfriend? You'd better watch out.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Portrayed as Insane Troll Logic. When Brent hits Lola, fighting back because she's torturing and trying to lobotomize him, she and her father lose it because "you don't hit girls".
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Averted. Lola fellates Brent at one point after pulling his penis out so he could urinate, and it’s properly portrayed as a horrifying event.
  • Drop The Hammer: A claw hammer is one of the tools Lola's father uses to torture Brent.
  • Dull Surprise: At the end of the film, Brent's mom sees him with several signs of torture in his body, including a hole in the skull, and the only thing she does is hug Brent with a dull expression. She doesn't seem to look shocked, scared or even worried.
  • Enfant Terrible: As her book shows, Lola's been torturing boys for a long time, since both she and her victims were young kids.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Lola and her father are a disturbing pair, but clearly care for one another. Lola really goes crazy after Brent kills her father.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Lola's father is angry that Brent hit a girl. He's also uncomfortable with Lola's attempted incest and mistreatment of Bright Eyes.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Barring the prologue, the events of the the film take less than 24 hours: starting at the end of the school day and finishing early to mid-morning the following day.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Bright Eyes and the other previous victims. In the case of the previous victims, they are kidnapped by Lola and her father, subjected to an extremely long and horrific ordeal including at least physical (and likely sexual) torture, before being crudely lobotomized and imprisoned in their basement.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: For how much of the film centers around torture and violence, very little of it is explicitly depicted onscreen; many graphic acts, including Brent having knives hammered into his feet and Lola drilling a hole into Brent's head, are largely left to the audience's imagination.
  • Groin Attack: Just barely subverted. When Lola finds out that Brent needs to pee, she pulls his penis out and gives him 10 seconds to pee into a cup before her father nails his penis to the chair. He manages to make it happen with one second left.
  • Karmic Death:
    • Lola's father has his neck slashed by Brent with kitchen knifes and then falls under the hidden trap door, where the lobotomized former victims of Lola's eat his body.
    • Lola gets viciously run down by Brent's girlfriend Holly, whose father Lola murdered, and then Brent swerves to avoid Holly and mows down Lola again, killing her this time. In fact, some viewers have complained it's not brutal enough.
  • Kick the Dog: The film shows us right from the start that Brent's kidnappers mean business.
  • Leitmotif: Kasey Chambers' "Not Pretty Enough" is Lola's favorite song, played at several times throughout the film (one time sung by her), with her saying that it will be her first dance song at her wedding. As Junkee Media described its applicability to Lola's mental state:
    "2009's The Loved Ones, a horror film about an obsessed stalker, put Kasey Chambers' hit in the mouth of its villain. But it wasn't subverting the song; it was just making the subtext into text. 'Not Pretty Enough' is a ballad about over-stepping boundaries and weaponising self-hatred. The creepiness is already there. It’s a gloriously uncomfortable tilt into the painful things about love."
  • Lobotomy: The fate of Bright Eyes and Lola's other victims, also what Lola and her father have planned for Brent.
  • Lodged-Blade Recycling: When he escapes, Brent stabs Lola's father with the knife the father had hammered through his foot to literally nail his feet to the floor.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Lola has Brent kidnapped and tortured for not going to the prom with her.
  • Male Gaze: An extremely squicky example; as Lola puts on the pink dress her father gets her while he's in the room, the camera briefly assumes his perspective and ogles up and down her body as she changes.
  • Matricide: Bright Eyes turns out to be Lola's mother. She smothers her with a pillow.
  • Mood Whiplash: The film has quite a few instances of this, such as one scene which goes from Brent being horrifically tortured to Jamie while he's on his date with Mia.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Several cases on Lola's behalf as Brent's retaliation causes her plan to fall apart.
    • After pushing Brent down the basement, she throws several objects at him. He uses some of them as weapons to defend himself from the beast-like captives down there.
    • After killing the police Sergeant, she pushes his corpse down the basement. His corpse added to the pile of the other victim's corpses, allowing Brent to climb up.
  • No Name Given: Lola's father. Presumably also Bright Eyes, which is almost certainly a nickname.
  • Not the First Victim: Lola and her father kidnap Brent after he turns down Lola's prom invite. However, while torturing him later, Lola shows Brent a scrapbook of her other victims, and it turns out that Brent actually ran one of them down after he escaped from Lola's house.
  • Nothing Nice About Sugar and Spice: Lola provides the page image; she's a Daddy's Little Villain and an insane yandere in a bright pink dress whose overly-invested father makes a "prom" for her every year where they kidnap a teenage guy, torture him, and force him to go along with their sadistic games before drilling a hole in his head and locking him in their basement to be tortured even more and starve.
  • Parental Incest: Although Lola and her father have never slept together, it is clear that both want to, Lola being the aggressor in this case. Unlike her, her father at least seems somewhat hesitant, and understandably so.
  • Psychopathic Womanchild: Besides being an incredibly entitled bitch (to say the very least), Lola has a ton of childish drawings in her scrapbook and acts overly giddy when she's torturing Brent.
  • Psycho Pink: Pink is Lola's favorite color. Her bedroom, makeup, jewelry, nails, shoes, posters, and underwear are pink, and she changes out of more subtle pink T-shirt in favor of a bright pink prom dress and a pink party hat for her "private party" with the (kidnapped) Bret as she tortures him. Her father also matches her by wearing a light pink tie to help him resemble her date.
  • Reminiscing About Your Victims: Lola has a scrapbook of her previous victims and goes through it with Brent, telling him details about all of them.
  • Revenge Myopia: Lola informs Brent that, because he killed her father, she will now take revenge by going to Brent’s house and killing his mother and his girlfriend. And the fact that, in order to kill her father, Brent had to break free of his restraints before the man poured a kettleful of boiling water into the hole they had just drilled through Brent’s skull? Lola seems to feel this is no excuse.
  • Running Over the Plot: Played with. Brent actually avoids running over the plot (not knowing that's what he'd be doing) when he swerves to avoid a boy stumbling around in the middle of the road, killing his father and restarting the actual plot. But it turns out that he was actually one of Lola and her father's victims, barely clinging to life.
  • Sacrificial Lion: The police Sergeant who goes out searching for Brent, and actually finds Brent in the basement, only to be killed before he can get Brent out. Lola callously shoves his body through the trapdoor...and in doing so adds to the stack of her previous victims' corpses, which manages to lift Brent just high enough in the air that he can reach the rim of the trapdoor and finally escape.
  • Serial Killer: This appears to be the case when Lola is showing off her scrapbook of previous victims to Brent. Later, it's shown she isn't. It turns out that she's been keeping them alive in the basement as pets, who she and her father feed roadkill to.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: The film's promotional poster features Lola pointing a power drill at the viewer.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Lola smothers her mother shortly after her father is killed, just For the Evulz.
  • Shown Their Work: Lola and her father's method of lobotomizing their victims with a power drill is similar to Jeffrey Dahmer's method; Dahmer was one of the primary sources Lola's actress Robin McLeavy was instructed to study for her character.
  • This Is a Drill: Lola and her father use an electric drill to drill a hole in the skulls of their victims and then pour in boiling water to lobotomize them. They drill a hole in Brent's skull but never manage to pour the water in.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Mia is shown nude in this state while having sex with Jamie in the back of his car.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Lola goes through one when her father dies at Brent's hands and when she's fighting his girlfriend.
  • Vorpal Pillow: Lola uses a pillow to suffocate Bright Eyes, who is actually her mother.
  • Was Once a Man: Lola's former victims are still alive and locked in the house basement under a hidden trap door. However they are twisted into aggressive, irrational beings, due to all of them being lobotomized, locked in the dark for so long and literally treated as beasts by her father, who feed them with raw dead animals he picks on roads.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: During Brent's torture-induced flashback, he realizes that the car crash that killed his father happened not because of Brent's driving, but because one of Lola's previous victims suddenly appeared in the road. Lola mentions that one of her previous 'boyfriends' escaped, and wandered off into the hills, where he presumably died of exposure or dehydration. It's not until the last scenes that the viewer realizes that it must have been Tim, the missing son of the police sergeant. Did Brent ever get to put two and two together? Or will Mia and her mother never find out what happened to him, in addition to mourning their father and husband? With that being said, considering that Lola kept a scrapbook of her victims, they'll likely discover some trophies of Tim's imprisonment.
  • Yandere: Lola has made a years-long hobby of kidnapping boys and torturing them for the simple crime of catching her eye but not being her perfect "prince"... and keeping photos of the mangled results in a scrapbook. While it is unclear if any of her previous victims rejected her advances, it is implied that Brent was kidnapped because he turned her down. Alternately, she could just be Cute and Psycho, especially since she was actually in love with her father, not any of the boys she kidnapped and tortured.
  • You Must Be Cold: When Jamie returns the now seriously stoned Mia home from their date well after midnight, she is wearing his suitcoat over her skimpy Little Black Dress. Her father, who is also the local police sergeant, looks suspiciously at Jamie but also seems grateful for the chivalry he is showing.