Hounds of Love (2017) [REVIEW] [SXSW ’17]

Love can make you do crazy things. For some, it means going on long road trips just for the chance to glimpse the love of your life for a few hours, while others might permanently adorn their bodies with artwork to commemorate a relationship for the rest of time. Regardless of how you express it, love makes you act like a wild idiot, and sometimes that’s manifested by kidnapping and torturing teenagers as a weird ritual in your love life. Wait, you don’t? That’s just a thing seen in Hounds of Love? Weird!

What’s that wall have to say?

Vicki (Ashleigh Cummings) wanting nothing more than to get to a party with friends and let loose after a tough week at school. John (Stephen Curry) and Evelyn White (Emma Booth) offer to give her a lift and a good deal on some drugs, but by the time the couple’s bizarre behavior in their home rubs her the wrong way, she’s already been roofied. When she wakes up, she’s bound to a bed and is witness to the terrify dichotomy between the couple, incorporating torture into their love life. Luckily, Vicki is quick on her feet and has found the key to escaping, but the question is whether or not she can act quickly enough to find salvation or if the passion between the deranged couple will result in her demise.

How could you not love a ‘stache like that? Or that tank top?!

What is it with Australian films and their abilities to navigating a unique blend of drama, horror, and humor into a film that feels wholly different from most other countries. From films like the Wolf Creek series to Snowtown, the terrifying stories refuse to be categorized as merely “horror,” and Hounds of Love continues that trend. With many horror films, there’s a desire from the audience to see some carnage on display, but that’s the last thing you want to happen to Vicki. Far from the compelling and charismatic serial killers in Natural Born Killers, John and Evelyn have a relationship filled with internal abuse, in addition to the abuse they subject their captor to.

Why so serious?

Another thing that ties Hounds of Love together with Snowtown and Wolf Creek is that they’re all rooted in reality. Writer/director Ben Young cites a book he read about female serial killers as the film’s inspiration, in addition to eerie similarities between the film’s narrative and the true-life serial killers The Birnies, an Australian couple who kidnapped and killed four girls in the mid-’80s. Rather than glorify the violence a sociopathic couple can express, he attempts to humanize the characters, showing that they have fucked up lives just like anyone. This isn’t expressed in a sympathetic way, but merely shows how fucked up anyone’s life or relationships can be through his gripping storytelling abilities. Hounds of Love is far from being an enjoyable watch, but the intense performances and a few truly hypnotic music cues help push the film into a unique portrayal of the highs and lows of humanity.

Wolfman Moon Scale 

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