Hounds of Love is a terrific crime thriller, period. It’s been a while since a story within this genre had caught my attention, but this one succeeded through a combination of factors that include a feverish direction from debutant filmmaker Ben Young, who also wrote the script with articulated cohesiveness. Moreover, the magnificence of the imagery punctuated with stunning slow-motion sequences, the soundtrack, which invites us to the psychological horror through the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” and releases the tension at the end with Joy Division’s “Atmosphere”, the accuracy of the performances, and the breathtaking plot itself, were also extremely influential in the outcome.
A quiet suburban neighborhood in the Australian city of Perth serves as the backdrop for a harrowing abduction, partly inspired by true events, perpetrated by a jobless, insane couple who embarks on a spiral of sexual abuse, torture, and ultimately killing of random teenage girls.
“…she’s revealed to be as diabolical as her husband.”
John and Evelyn White, unblemishedly played by Stephen Curry and the former teen model Emma Booth, respectively, belong to those baffling creatures we observe with incredulous petrifaction in a vague attempt to understand the abominating cruelty that dwells in their souls.
John is a spiteful, manipulative monster who easily loses his temper and is clearly proud of himself, while the psychologically disoriented Evelyn lives in a constant state of distress and emotional turmoil. She’s the one who lures girls into their car, offering them a ride when they are alone.
When Vickie (Ashleigh Cummings) sneakily leaves her house without her mother’s (Susie Porter) consent and accepts the couple’s ride, she couldn’t imagine she was being taken to the putrid nest of the devil. The capture of another victim turns the couple on, and their deranged reaction mirrors the complex, nauseous, and malevolent state of mind they live in.
“…will force you to ruminate on the darkest side of the human nature.”
While chained to a bed in the small torture room where she was thrown in, Vicky quickly realizes that her only chance to escape would be through Evelyn, who often oscillates in behavior and resolution. Deep down inside, the latter is aware of John’s immoral depravity, but cowardice always wins whenever she thinks of breaking the cycle. She is still apprehensive and sore about the lost of her own baby, which happened in mysterious circumstances, yet she’s revealed to be as diabolical as her husband.
Curry and Booth carry the film on their shoulders while the sequences of frames are haunting and powerful, displacing the viewer into bizarre scenarios whose highly suggestive visual details stimulate the imagination rather than exposing us to graphic violence.
The chillingly infectious Hounds of Love exudes fetid vibes that will force you to ruminate on the darkest side of the human nature.
Hounds of Love (2016) – Written and directed by Ben Young. Starring: Emma Booth, Stephen Curry, Ashleigh Cummings, Susie Porter.
8 out of 10