Film Review – Hounds of Love (2016)

Title – Hounds of Love (2016)

Director – Ben Young (feature debut)

Cast – Emma Booth, Stephen Curry, Ashleigh Cummings, Susie Porter, Harrison Gilbertson

Plot – In Perth Australia of 1989, depraved couple Evelyn (Booth) and John White (Curry) kidnap and imprison school girl Vicki (Cummings) setting up a battle of wills and manipulation between captive and captors.

“Go in there right now and show her who’s running the show”

Review by Eddie on 28/11/2017

Proving once again that Australian films can match it with the bleakest of the bleak, debut filmmaker Ben Young’s horror film Hounds of Love is an often hard to watch kidnaping tale that features two of Australian cinema’s most vile and reprehensible creations.

Set in Perth in 1989, Hounds brings us straight into the depraved nature of its central duo as we’re shown shots of schoolgirls playing netball on their school grounds as Emma Booth’s Evelyn White and Stephen Curry’s John White watch on with keen eyes, seeking their next victim that they can kidnap and imprison in their grimy suburban home.

It’s a confronting start to the film, a 13 minute or so introduction that makes us uneasy before the title card even displays and it sets the tone for the rest of Hounds that barely takes a break from its often hard to watch proceedings as Evelyn and John kidnap and imprison Ashleigh Cummings schoolgirl Vicki.

The filmmaking and acting on display here is of the highest order, Young has earmarked himself as a true Australian talent while Cummings builds upon her impressive early career work that includes hit Australian TV show Puberty Blues, Emma Booth continues to prove herself to be one of Australia’s most underrated performers while Stephen Curry is a revelation as the downright evil John.

A long time face of Australian comedy that includes prominent roles in classic Aussie yarns like The Castle and The Nugget, Curry sheds his everyman persona and likeable countenance to embody John and create a vile creature that’s lost all control over his terrible desires and sense of humanity. John is a man that is psychically unspectacular and a man berated by his drug dealer, a pent up unassuming creature that hides a violent and monstrous core.

As impressive as Young’s control behind the camera is and his performers in front of it, it doesn’t help Hounds overcome its incredibly harsh and almost unrelenting on-screen atrocities and while clearly the film wasn’t made for entertainment purposes, it doesn’t make it any easier to recommend as Hounds is not a film you would tell people to watch despite its craftsmanship.

From abuse committed towards Vicki, the fact Evelyn and John are near on irremediably sinister and a shocking scene that portrays an act of animal violence, Hounds is an unflinching examination of the evil in humanity and also the dangers that lay in wait in seemingly idealistic neighbourhoods but it doesn’t always justify just how hard it is to sit through a film of this nature.

Final Say –

One of the most talked about Australian films of the last few years, Hounds of Love is also one of the most hard to recommend even if its performances, filmmaking and construction are of the highest order. Consider yourself warned about a film that will leave you reeling and in need of a cold shower long after the credits have rolled.

3 hand written letters out of 5      

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