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The 25 Best Movies of 2012

15. The Loved Ones

Director: Sean Byrne
Stars: Robin McLeavy, Xavier Samuel, John Brumpton, Victoria Thaine, Richard Wilson, Jessica McNamee

It's arguably the biggest thorn sticking into any passionate, knowledgeable horror film lover's back: Cinematic excrement like The Apparition and Silent Hill: Revelation receive wide theatrical releases while smaller, exceedingly better flicks like The Loved Ones fight to even show in one American theater for three years. And when Australian filmmaker Sean Byrne's gleefully deranged horror-comedy finally did get a release this past June, it was through the blink-and-you'll-miss-it TUGG platform, which basically meant that only a select few could catch it before its subsequent DVD debut.

If ever you're able to check out a copy of this little gem, consider yourself fortunate. The Loved Ones is a sick, consistently invigorating marriage of John Hughes-inspired coming-of-age teen drama, John Waters' brand of perverted comedy, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre-like horror moments. It also introduces a new genre villain for the ages: Lola Stone (played brilliantly by Robin McLeavy), a shy high school misfit who gets her equally demented father to kidnap the boy who said "No" to her prom date request and proceeds to torture him—and that's before the real craziness begins.

Byrne's film is the perfect antidote for any casual moviegoer who hunkers for memorable new horror but can't find anything better than, say, the mediocre The Possession in their local theater. Beneath its mainstream surface, the genre is alive and incredibly well, and The Loved Ones is one of its finest recent entries.

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