THE LOVED ONES (Paramount, 2009) D: Sean Byrne, w/ Xavier Samuel, Robin McLeavy. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NN Rating: NNN
Here's a refreshing twist on the worn-out teen horror genre. Shy Lola (Robin McLeavy) asks brooding Brent (Xavier Samuel) to the prom. He politely declines, so she kidnaps him and takes him home for a night of escalating torture, helped by her adoring dad.
In her own demented way, Lola is living out the typical teen girl's love fantasy, which lets McLeavy range through emotions from sweet innocence to petty sadism and full-blown homicidal lunacy. Brent barely speaks once the horror starts, but Samuel knows how to use his eyes and body to maximum effect, and a prologue provides him with a clear and relevant inner life.
The naturalistic visuals and a contrasting subplot enhance the horror as much as the mutilation and gore. Effects supervisor Justin Dix cheerily explains how he achieved the latter in the brief extras.
EXTRAS Samuel, McLeavy and Dix interviews. English audio. English, French, Spanish subtitles.