The legends that are LoveFilm have once again randomly sent me two films similar enough to compare and contrast. Whereas before we had the bizarre niches of Asian Revenge and Deep South double bills – this time we have two films that I can only describe as ‘Aussie Nastiness’.
If this kind of thing turns your stomach you should probably stop reading now – just a warning.
The first of the two films is The Loved Ones, a story about a mentally unhinged girl who, with the help of her equally deranged father, kidnaps her unrequited crush in order to hold their very own prom night of her own, involving chicken, milk and party hats as well as plenty of torture and abuse.
Presented in a schlocky, torture porn style – the juxtaposition of Lola’s initially sweet appearance to the evil screeching and violent ‘Princess’ that we see later on in the film makes for a suitably terrifying and memorable antagonist. The violence is sadistic, bloody and inventive – involving hammers, lobotomies and cannibalism.
As a result of the events depicted being a bit fantastical, you may balk at some of the atrocities but you are always aware that it's a piece of fiction. Coupled with the fact that its very stylishly shot and scored – it's a horror film made for horror film lovers.
The inclusion of a subplot involving two other kids from in the same school that runs parallel but never really crosses over with the main plot (except for in the opening scenes) may feel odd to some, but it provides a nice break from the carnage.
Another film that can be described as an ‘Aussie Nasty’ is Snowtown – the story of a boy who gets involved with the crimes of John Bunting – Australia’s worst serial killer. Yep, this one is based on a true story, which makes the film all the more horrific and disturbing.
Not only that but the tone is very bleak throughout. Washed out greys and depictions of trashed back gardens and poverty stricken trailer parks set the tone early on – and the sense of dread rises gradually from its slow start as Bunting infiltrates the boy’s life gradually from helpful neighbour to father figure to domineering psychopath that there is no escape from.
The naturalistic performances here are truly startling – especially that of the two leads. Seeing this film is more a matter of whether or not you can stomach the awfulness of what is unfolding – a lot of it is implied rather than explicitly shown like in the stylised manner of The loved Ones.
For this reason, Snowtown is far more disturbing to watch – those looking for more straightforward horror thrills may prefer The Loved Ones.
Both films equally Australian, equally nasty. Both recommended (if you think you can stomach it) but for different reasons.
25 April 2012