WCBE

Hounds of Love

May 15, 2017

Small film, big art.

Hounds of Love

Image courtesy of IMDb.

Grade: A-

Director: Ben Young (Something Fishy)

Screenplay: Young

Cast: Emma Booth (Gods of Egypt), Stephen Curry (Rogue)

Rating: NR

Runtime: 1 hr 48 min

by John DeSando

“Never talk to strangers. If someone ever tries to take you, fight with everything you have.”
Lisa Unger, Ink and Bone

Young writer-director Ben Young must have watched Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs at least once because his Hounds of Love has earmarks of brilliant thriller/horror ultimately hinging on character and not blood. Young even introduces his film by observing that the real terror comes from what is not seen.

Much of this film, set in Perth, Australia, at Christmas time, 1987, is about the idea of a psychotic couple abducting and killing young women who happen to be stupid enough to get in the car of strangers. I say “idea” because once the girl is chained to a bed, the couple begins to reveal their psychoses, almost exclusively about the loss of children in their lives.

Although John White (Stephen Curry) does most of the physical heavy lifting as he abuses the girl, his partner, Evelyn (Emma Booth), is the tormented one and the object of abducted teen Vicki’s (Ashleigh Cummings) campaign to drive a wedge between the two. The home and neighborhood is working class Perth, where similar events actually happened; the atmosphere is joyless living, not impoverished, just not nourished by the better angels of culture.

As the film moves assuredly to the climax, the characters’ arcs move toward their deserved fate: Vicki shows a presence her initial bratty teen side did not evidence, John becomes more vulnerable because he is visceral rather than cerebral, and Evelyn struggles with her desire to have her children back in her life and her desire to be loved by John.

The title, Hounds of Love, ingeniously plays off the couple’s dog and everyone’s hunt for love, even Vicki’s wounded but intrepid mother.  Yes, life can have its moments of horror beyond the terrors of abuse and abduction.

Hounds of Love is meaty film from a talented filmmaker and a delight to see in a summer sure to be filled with explosions not of the mind.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com