The Loved Ones: What Lola Wants
With the impressive horror flick The Loved Ones, lead actress Robin McLeavy is set to terrify and entertain.
Under normal circumstances actress Robin McLeavy wouldn't have the stomach to watch The Loved Ones - a blackly funny, insanely brilliant horror/comedy that has reached cult status before even being released in its country of origin - Australia. McLeavy takes on the role of Lola Stone, an outcast high schooler who takes torturous revenge on the cute but troubled Brent (Xavier Samuel) when he declines her offer to accompany him to the school dance.
Director Sean Byrne claims that McLeavy's turn as the maniacal teenager Lola is "the best horror performance since Kathy Bates in Misery" but when the comment is thrown to the actress, she lets it slide, and instead talks about what she picked up from Bates' legendary performance as the character who, like Lola, held the man of her dreams hostage while doing unspeakably twisted things to him. "The dynamic between Lola and Brent is quite similar to the dynamic between Kathy Bates' character and her victim," says McLeavy. "The woman has all the power for the whole film. It's a situation that comes out of a need for companionship. The women are quite lonely, and they find it hard to connect with other people - particularly men... It's so hard not to make your performance just shocking for the sake of it. That was the main thing that I focused on - how lonely Lola was. The only vocabulary that she has for becoming intimate with someone is violence and torture."
Incredibly, McLeavy confesses that she didn't quite realise how freakishly funny the film was going to be until much later. "Robin's just an absolute force of nature, and she's so much fun to watch," says Byrne. "She's great with John Brumpton, who plays her ‘Daddy'; he's one of Australia's finest character actors, and Daddy is quietly deranged. They work so well together as a team because she's the adolescent that wears her violent heart on her sleeve, and he's the father, the guiding light and the Frankenstein. We don't know exactly what's going through his head, and sometimes that's even more disturbing. She's in-your-face and he steps back a bit. The two of them balance each other out."
Being a horror fan is not a prerequisite for enjoying The Loved Ones. "I'm really not a horror fan at all - or I haven't been up until now," McLeavy admits. "I was terrified of watching horror films [laughs]. So it was a strange thing to be cast in this movie, but I loved the idea of playing a young woman who's so psychologically unhinged. My friends have to trick me into seeing horror; the last horror film that I saw in the cinema was The Ring. I was angry at my friend because I had to sit there the whole time with my jacket over my head. But I've since started watching Rosemary's Baby and Misery and films like that, and they're brilliant."
Due to her sizzling turn in The Loved Ones, Robin McLeavy has received interest from overseas and has been offered a number of horror roles, but she's not planning to revisit the genre any time soon - although she may well in the future. Currently working on a short film - a comedy called Hollywood Ending with Toby Schmitz (Three Blind Mice) - McLeavy says that she'd like to trade Lola's pink frock for a corset. "I'd love to do a period drama or something romantic," she laughs, "just to go in the other direction."
The Loved Ones is released on November 4.
To read the full feature on The Loved Ones with more from director Sean Byrne and the cast including Xavier Samuel and John Brumpton, pick up the November issue of Filmink which is on stands now.