The Horror Honeys: The Overlook Film Festival - 'Hounds of Love'

The Overlook Film Festival - 'Hounds of Love'

An Overlook Film Festival Review with Linnie

Hounds of Love (2016)

Photos courtesy of Fons PR
Some horror films are made to be enjoyed, to elicit scares of the exciting kind, scares that you can laugh about with your friends after it's all over. These are the kind of horror films you watch in groups, appreciate while eating buckets full of popcorn, and have a good giggle when a moment frightens you out of your seat.

Ben Young's Hounds of Love is not one of those horror movies.

Hounds of Love is a dark, provocative, upsetting, terror-inducing, realistic approach to horror, which will destroy your soul and leave you shaken. It is not for the faint-of-heart, and it's all the better for it.

The Story: Set in Perth, Australia in 1987, teenager Vicki (Ashleigh Cummings) is randomly abducted from her neighborhood by a couple, Evelyn (Emma Booth) and John (Stephen Curry). It doesn't take Vicki long to realize that while they are sadistic, there is something unusual about Evelyn and John's relationship, and the only way she can escape their torture is by exploiting their fragile bond.

While Hounds of Love may sound like a standard abduction film, or just another retread of the "Lonely Hearts Killers" story, it is anything but. In his debut feature, Young's script chooses to frame the story from Evelyn's perspective, as opposed to Vicki's, immediately setting it apart from other films in the same genre. As such, the audience becomes privy to the fact that while Evelyn is just as culpable for their crimes as John, she is also as much a hostage as Vicki. Because while Hounds of Love is a hostage thriller, it's also a meditation on the psychological effects of domestic violence. And Young has written two complex, fascinating, and intriguing women in a genre where the same is often lacking.

Not only is Hounds of Love a well-written film, but it's a beautifully directed one. Young has an eye for lingering on moments that will make the viewer uncomfortable; that keen ability begins with the opening shot, and never lets up. Combined with his skill at crafting a perfect period piece (a closing use of New Order on the soundtrack is especially adept), Hounds of Love is an introduction to a promising new voice in the genre.

The film is also carried, with unflinching commitment, by a trio of brilliant actors. Cummings is strong, and never lapses into "victim" territory, while Curry is a frightening and detestable villain. However, it is Booth who truly steals the movie at every turn. She is layered, believable, and broken; you can't help but sympathize with Evelyn even when she's proving to be just as villainous as her husband. There is something manic, yet wholly approachable in her performance, and it's a hell of a thing to behold.

Hounds of Love is the kind of film that will make even seasoned horror fans squirm, and in an age when movies seem less inclined to challenge viewers, this isn't a bad thing. But prepare yourself for a film experience that will leave you utterly destroyed.

Head Honey Rating: 4 & 1/2 clever codes out of 5

Viewer Warnings: Hounds of Love features scenes of graphic sexual assault, domestic violence, and extreme animal brutality (the latter of which has been logged at Day of the Animals). Proceed with caution.