Whilst there are countless films which, taken at face value, use the tried and tested capture-bind-kill style scenario, few accomplish the level of realism as Aussie thriller ‘Hounds of Love’.
Set in the 80s, and loosely based on a true story, the film follows a dysfunctional couple who have a frighteningly successful method of kidnapping and disposing of young and vulnerable, female teens. Of course they will want to be having a little bit of 'fun' before hand.
One fateful night Viki Maloney sneaks out of her house hoping to party, instead she is picked up by John and Evelyn White, the films unhinged protagonists. To survive Viki must keep her wits about her and break down the psychological ties that bind the couple.
What ensues is a gruelling portrayal of a cat and mouse mind games, where manipulating abuse on both sides determines survival at any time.
Whilst I would struggle to put into words exactly what makes this work so powerful, what I will say is that writer/director Ben Young has put out a movie here which you will remember for a very long time. Whether it be the realistic performance of all three leads, the layered depth to their characters, the atmosphere created between the consistent tension between the group, where at times the balance of emotional superiority shifted, at times, a line of dialogue at a time.
The acting is mind blowing, and whilst there is no denying the camera work and great use of 80s themes and styles help to contextualise the film, but its the cast really pull out all the stops. Whilst one could argue Stephen Curry as John White has perhaps the simpler role in terms of being one nasty fucker almost 100% of the time, each has the moments where they must play an alter-ego, all in the name of mind-games and manipulation.
The set pieces keep you guessing and whilst I don’t want to give away the ending, but I will say that even up to the final scenes the fate of poor Viki could go either way. It makes for uncomfortable but gripping viewing. The scenes of violence are not gratuitously shocking, but there are consistant visual clues as to the obcene nature of abuse the White's victims must endure.
Overall, I would struggle to say much more about how amazing ‘Hounds of Love’ is as a psycho-thriller without defaulting to hyperbole. It might not be a pleasant watch, and it won’t leave you for a while, but if that sort of thing is your bag, then I cannot see you starting your 2018 serial killer collection with a better example than this.
p.s. Ben Young, you have ruined ‘Nights in White Satin’ for me... forever…