Loaded

on April 12, 1996 by Christine James
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   This dark adventure, written and directed by Anna Campion (sister of acclaimed filmmaker Jane Campion), follows a group of teens on their excursion to an eerie old mansion to film an amateur horror video. The assemblage of friends includes the intense but emotionally unstable and psychologically troubled Neil ("The Browning Version's" Oliver Milburn); Rose ("Braveheart's" Catherine McCormack), who is beautiful but naive and insecure; the arrogant and creepy Giles (Nick Patrick); Lance, a fast-talking, ambitious materialist; the self-confident, articulate Charlotte (Biddy Hodson); and the outspoken yet sensitive Zita ("The Journey of August King's" Thandie Newton).
   When outsider Lionel (Mathew Eg- gleton) enters the mix and seemingly interferes with Neil's romantic intentions toward Rose, and when the group decides to have a night of fun and self-revelation with the help of hallucinogens, a chain of events is set in motion that will alter the lives of all present.
   Hints of parapsychological subplots turn out to be red herrings, possibly with the intention of showing by contrast that real life can be far more horrific (particularly exemplified by the chillingly stark reality of the final shot, which is powerfully dramatic in its complete absence of drama). But the open-endedness of the film is frustrating, and it's unclear what audiences should take with them. Ultimately, it's an interesting collection of character sketches and angst-ridden interactions.    Starring Oliver Milburn, Danny Cunningham, Catherine McCormack and Thandie Newton. Directed and written by Anna Campion. Produced by David Hazlett, Caroline Hewitt, Bridget Ikin and John Maynard. A Miramax release. Drama. Unrated. Running time: 95 min.
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