February 23, 2014 at 5:57 pm (8 Heads, Loaded) (, , , )

Loaded – 1994 – New Zealand

Seven twentysomethings spend the weekend at a country estate. They love, laugh, argue, philosophize, smoke cigarettes, shoot a horror movie, and drop acid. It is a period of self-discovery. A virgin woman explores her sexuality. Two would-be filmmakers debate the purpose of art. And, in Loaded’s most suspenseful conflict, a jealous man uncovers his own capability for murderous violence.

Loaded is mundane but engaging. Watching the well-developed characters interact is fascinating. Testament to their lifelikeness, each reminded me of someone I know. Their situations are amusing, depressing, perplexing, and frightening. While Loaded defies genre, its atmosphere of suspense and dread recalls horror flicks, but its bewildering mixture of themes and tones is much more complex. I was left emotionally confused.

Produced in New Zealand, Loaded feels like an English film. Meandering structure and stream of consciousness dialogue make for wistful pacing. Low key lighting is alternately dreamy and dreary. VHS footage inserts induce nostalgia.

Loaded’s marketing materials suggest it is a slasher flick. It was also titled Bloody Weekend and its tagline is campy and evocative. “Seven friends are getting away for the weekend, and one is getting away with MURDER!” Loaded’s sundry subject matter may be about many things, but it is definitely not about that.

Rating: 8/10 Shrunken Heads. In a flashback, a low Steadicam shot chases a child on a tricycle. An homage to The Shining (1980)?


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