Some films gnaw at your inner consciousness until you wish they didn’t exist, yet they do and for a reason. Hounds of Love from director Ben Young is an unflinching portrayal of how love can cause an unhealthy addiction to one person, and an acceptance to look past their evil tendencies. This film is not for those who do not like to be disturbed…
The year is 1987, and one couple are crawling through the rougher side of Perth looking for a young girl to fulfill their sadistic needs. Teenager Vicki is currently going through the divorce of her parents, with her father living in the upper-class section and her mother living in the not-so-nice part. When she sneaks out one evening to go to a party, she’s tempted by John and Evelyn who offer her the opportunity to buy some weed from them in their home which is just around the corner. Once in their home, Vicki quickly realises that the couple aren’t the loving family pair that they made themselves out to be.
Even though there is no mention or recognition from Young and those who helped to create the film, the details of this story immediately pulled on my senses that there was more truth that first meets the eye. If you have a keen interest in serial killers and murders then you will remember episode 31 of Australian true crime podcast, Casefile, entitled The Killer Couple. This episode details the case of David and Catherine Birnie who abducted five women, help them captive in their home, raped them and murdered them, minus the fifth who managed to escape. Hounds of Love takes this horrific real killing spree and projects it onto the audience’s screen in one of the most disturbing and uncomfortable portrayals ever made. It’s reminiscent of the atmosphere displayed in the 2011 film The Snowtown Murders from Justin Kurzel.
The characters are presented as they should be; John is a monster from the moment the film starts. He is manipulative, ruled by his sick fetishes and need to satisfy those at any cost, and is a sociopath devoid of empathy. Evelyn is a character that although we wish not to, we find ourselves identifying with and feeling emotion towards as it’s clear that she is both the assailant and the victim in this situation. Then we have Vicki, who is an innocent and unsuspecting girl, who makes some mistakes but only due to her trusting and kind nature. Stephen Curry makes us hate John in every way; from the way he breathes to how his eyes glaze over with a depraved lust when he looks at young girls. Ashleigh Cummings is convincing in every scene, with a look in her eyes that seeps with fear and screams that ring through your core for days. But the most outstanding performance comes from Emma Booth who reeks of desperation, exhibits waves of evilness but essentially makes us feel and experience everything that she goes through.
Hounds of Love does not rely on showing the audience nasty scenes depicting rape, sodomy and torture. It is subtle in every sense of the word, yet still more disturbing than some films which exist solely to shock the audience with graphic scenes of violence. Through the clever use of working on the viewer’s own imagination, Hounds of Love relies on psychological elements that come across as far more damaging than any film that believes you need to show over ten decapitations to really violate the viewer. As someone who is an avid watcher of films that are controversial and shocking, this film has instantly taken a new lead and shows other filmmakers that the brain is a far more powerful tool than any visual or special effects.
Hounds of Love is one of the most intense, harrowing and uncomfortable watches ever made. It allows you to explore your own depraved mind and put in place those moments of pure evil once the door shuts and all you can hear are distressing screams. As previously mentioned, this is not for those who do not like to be disturbed.
Directed by: Ben Young
Cast: Emma Booth, Ashleigh Cummings, Stephen Curry