Australians seem to possess a rather perverse dark humour which they bring to their film-making. This is especially the case in their horror films. Whether it’s the psychological terror of the classic Wake in Fright, the deliciously gruesome Wolf Creek, the almost surreal ‘true story’ Lake Mungo or the snappy Black Water, there’s something rather bleak and singular about genre cinema from Down Under. Hounds of Love, the new film from Ben Young, is a fresh and compelling spin on kidnapping.
Vicki (Ashleigh Cummings), a bright yet troubled teenager who is struggling to come to terms with her parents’ recent divorce, sneaks out of her mum’s (Susie Porter) house to go to a party. A couple stop to offer a lift, persuading her to come back to their house to pick up some weed. However, John (Stephen Curry) and Evelyn (Emma Booth) aren’t exactly benevolent; drugging and imprisoning Vicki. Whilst she desperately hopes for an opportunity to escape, her captors become increasingly erratic and dangerous.
Hounds of Love is a tense and savage horror which adds a different perspective to the abduction sub-genre. Vicki is not the only victim of John’s psychosis. Whilst Evelyn is unstable herself, she’s retained much more humanity than her lover. Indeed, it’s the power dynamic between the pair which adds a fresh touch of spice, allowing the viewer to gain an insight into their relationship and psyches at the same time as their captive. The acting is superb and Young controls the pacing brilliantly, making Hounds of Love is a breathtaking and harrowing debut.
Hounds of Love is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Arrow Video on 29 January.