HOUNDS OF LOVE | REVIEW

HOUNDS OF LOVE is a quiet little independent that releases this week, June 1 in Australia. This is one of those horrific torture movies that make me squirm. The new SNOWTOWN meets FUNNY GAMES, I can’t really watch them anymore. I detested what FUNNY GAMES did and while I rated SNOWTOWN a perfect score I literally had an anxiety attack while watching and felt sick to the stomach afterwards. Lucky for us Kernel Jack is still a twisted MOFO who gets off on this genre. Just kidding, he is just a talented critic with a stronger fibre than myself. One thing that I a curious about is the use of greyhounds on the poster? What on earth does this have to do with the movie? Find out this week at art house cinemas. 

HOUNDS OF LOVE is rated MA15+. It is being released by FACTOR 30 FILMS and runs for 108mins. Track it down at art-house cinemas and Enjoy Jack’s review……..all the best………Salty.

BY

Even for those who aren’t fans, the genre of is one that deserves to be universally celebrated. Of all the genres out there, is the one that consistently manages to stir up the biggest reactions. It plays on your deepest fears, conjuring up an internal reaction that’s hard to ignore. Comedies work depending on your sense of humour, but effects each and every one of us. It’s the genre, in my eyes, most efficient at impacting the largest audience. And Australia gets this. We understand. Our history with has reached audiences far beyond our golden soil, especially with more recent hits such as THE BABADOOK and WOLF CREEK. With each new horror film, I eagerly seek it out, and Australia’s latest, HOUNDS OF LOVE, successfully delivers on its twisted promises.

 

Hounds of Love Ashleigh Cummings image

 

HOUNDS OF LOVE SYNOPSIS:

HOUNDS OF LOVE is supposedly based on a true story (but more on that later), is set in Perth in the late 80s. After a series of eerie, uncomfortable slow motion shots to open the film up, the camera settles down, focusing in on seventeen year old Vicki Maloney (). Her parents are going through a divorce. She’s struggling. While she spends most of her days living with her dad (Damian de Montemas), this week, a rare occasion, she’s reluctantly staying with her mum (Susie Porter).

Her mum is disappointed with her grades, banning her from spending the night out at a party. The two fight, but ultimately, Vicky looses. She’s confined to her room, and it doesn’t take long before she decides to sneak out through an unlocked window and walk to the party instead. But like all great horror films, something very bad is about to go down.

The sun has set. Darkness consumes every street. It’s a perfectly creepy night, and Vicki is wandering the streets alone. Cue deranged suburban couple, John () and Evelyn (). The two of them drive on by the lone Vicki and abduct her. She’s drugged, taken to their home and chained up to a bed in their spare bedroom, uncertain of her fate from here on out. For as much as it might sound like it, however, HOUNDS OF LOVE is far from your typical abduction thriller. It’s a confronting movie experience, something you can no doubt guess by reading the plot synopsis, but for horror fans like myself, there’s plenty to love in ’s chilling feature debut.

 

Hounds of Love Stephen Curry image

 

FEAR WITHOUT EXPLOITATION:

Often, the scariest part of any is the build up. It’s the slow, unnerving suspense leading up to the final scare. Horror is a genre typically associated with being slow in pace, and there are exceptions, I’d even go so far as to say HOUNDS OF LOVE is an exception, but for the most part, it’s true. And it’s true for good reason. What’s off the screen is always as scary, if not scarier than what is actually on the screen. This is a concept HOUNDS OF LOVE understands. It plays with your expectations of what a film like this should do; building up deep psychological tension with the expectation of exploiting a topic this film had every opportunity to exploit. Yet it doesn’t.

That’s not to say HOUNDS OF LOVE plays things safe, though. This film is a violent and uncomfortable viewing, no doubt. One of the reasons it is as good as it is, is because of its awareness of the subject matter. It knows the topic it’s dealing with and is able to craft a deeply unsettlingly movie where most of the real terror happens off screen. Sexual harassment is never fun to watch, nor hear about, and this film could’ve easily cheated its way to bringing up a reaction. It could’ve easily showcased all of the plot’s dark events, but it uses them sparingly.

Ben Young knows he’s already got the audience on the edge of their seat, and he doesn’t need excessive gore or rape to make his film work. It shows what it has to show, making it a matter of the mind, something that’s far worse than depicting every detail out on screen.

 

Hounds of Love Movie Poster image

 

SOMETHING MUCH BIGGER:

It’s Vicki’s abduction that surprisingly works more as a catalyst for the film’s commentary on abusive relationships than it does as the central story. Plenty of films have dealt with the kidnapping of teenage girls before. None of them have done it like this. Vicki, while the protagonist, isn’t always the central focus. She is, in a lot of ways, a minor role. She’s a fly on the wall, trapped in a household she most definitely doesn’t want to be in, and forced to put up with John and Evelyn’s violent and sadistic ways. HOUNDS OF LOVE is first and foremost a horror movie, but it’s so much more than that. It may not exploit its dark content, but it certainly exploits emotional and physical manipulation between seemingly everyday couples.

Ben Young’s genius and deeply layered screenplay spends more time following the day-to-day lives of John and Evelyn than it does focusing on Vicki’s escape. There comes a point in the film, after having to deal with a magnitude of abuse, where Vicki practically gives up. She stops fighting back for a large chunk of this movie, and that’s when Young moves his focus to her deranged kidnappers. We get to learn their past, their relations to one another and their dealings in the real world. You don’t necessarily sympathize with them or understand where they’re coming from, even if Young tries his hardest to do just that, but you get a real sense of how damaged they secretly are.

 

Hounds of Love Ashleigh Cummings image

 

THE PROBLEMS:

This is the type of movie that improves greatly the more I stop to think about it. I walked out liking the film, but feeling as though it were a bit of a missed opportunity. I do still think that to some degree, but not nearly as much as I once did. HOUNDS OF LOVE has plenty of issues, but many of them seemed to clear up once I let the film soak in for a while. Not everything remains clear, especially certain character motives or under explained sub-plots, and I disagreed with a lot of Young’s decisions towards the third act. They feel jarring and conflicting, attempting to make you feel a certain way, but no matter how hard he tries, he can’t pull it off.

The first eighty or so minutes contradict what he was going for, and it makes several of his decisions feel like an offbeat turn around for certain characters. It’s not that he didn’t set up what he was going for, as breadcrumbs are left everywhere, but it’s simply that the breadcrumbs don’t fit into the story as well as they should. Now, this could easily be tossed aside as being loyal to the true story, but when you do some digging, that isn’t the case. In fact, this film isn’t based on any one true story, but instead a number of true stories all mashed up together. The plot was, no doubt, primarily inspired by one singular case, but it is, frequently, a work of fiction. It’s a film first and foremost, and a true story second.

 

Hounds of Love Stephen Curry and Emma Booth image

 

IN CONCLUSION:

HOUNDS OF LOVE is no easy watch, even with most of its brutality carried out off-screen. It’s a dark and disconcerting horror movie capable of bringing out everybody’s worst nightmare. Every performance is fantastic, especially that of Stephen Curry’s haunting, perverse antagonist, making this an unhinged and unforgettable horror with plenty of bite. It’s the single most gorgeously shot kidnapping thriller I’ve ever seen, capturing its horrors with immense beauty. HOUNDS OF LOVE is far from perfect, occasionally wandering off in the third act, but for the most committed of horror fans, there’s something really special to be found.

 

 

 

YOUR CRITIC:

When he’s not spending an embarrassing amount of hours browsing through Netflix, Jack Dignan dedicates his time to reviewing movies of all genres and languages. He has done so since 2012. He also maintains a website of his own – www.directorscutmovies.com – and ever since their interview, he’s been best friends with Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino just doesn’t know it yet.