Combustible Celluloid
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With: Xavier Samuel, Robin McLeavy, Victoria Thaine, Jessica McNamee, Richard Wilson, John Brumpton, Andrew S. Gilbert, Suzi Dougherty, Victoria Eagger, Anne Scott-Pendlebury, Fred Whitlock, Leo Taylor, Brandon Burns, Stephen Walden, Igor Savin
Written by: Sean Byrne
Directed by: Sean Byrne
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence and torture, sexuality, some language, teen drug and alcohol use
Running Time: 84
Date: 09/13/2009

The Loved Ones (2009)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Prom Mean

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

One of the late-night selections of the 2010 San Francisco International Film Festival, this surprising gore fest from Australia remains one of my favorites.

Writer/director Sean Byrne mixes up a perfect combination of humanity, dark, dry humor and bloody terror. Handsome high-schooler Brent (Xavier Samuel) lives a tormented existence; he blames himself for his father's death in a car accident. But things are looking up, as he will be going to prom with a good girl who really loves him.

When the shy Lola (Robin McLeavy) also asks him to the dance, he has to break the news that he already has a date, which begins a load of trouble. Simultaneously, Brent's best pal, a tubby stoner called Sac (Richard Wilson) manages a date with the sexy, dangerous Mia (Jessica McNamee).

I can't say any more, since The Loved Ones constantly moves in unexpected directions with these two subplots. Byrne's use of space and light is very highly skilled; he gets some very good dark laughs in during the third act. Ms. McLeavy is a true find, managing to use her eyes and body to convey coyness, shyness, sultriness and downright insanity.

After a few years on the festival circuit, The Loved Ones had a brief, small American release in the summer of 2012. Keep an eye out for it!

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