If you enjoy hard-hitting, tough-to-stomach entertainment, then Hounds of Love, the impressive debut film from writer/director Ben Young, is right up your alley. Hands down, it’s the most unnerving, disturbing, and effective horror movie of 2017 so far.
I have to be completely honest; this is a difficult movie to recommend. There are “fun” horror movies and then there are “not-so-fun” horror movies. The “fun” horror movies are the ones you can watch with a group of friends and laugh when you’re all spooked by a jump scare (think Scream, Halloween, or Paranormal Activity). The “not-so-fun” horror movies are the ones that stay with you long after you’ve seen them. They’re the kinds of movies that have a disquieting way of lingering in the back of your mind (think Cannibal Holocaust, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, or Possession). Hounds of Love falls hard into the “not-so-fun” category.
On the surface, the film’s description reads like an exploitation flick with no sense of integrity or merit, but looks can be deceiving. John and Evelyn White (fantastically performed by Stephen Curry and Emma Booth), are a serial killer couple who abduct, rape, and murder young women in suburban Perth during the mid 1980s. When Vicki Maloney (a standout Ashleigh Cummings) is randomly selected by the couple, she quickly learns that she needs to break apart John and Evelyn’s relationship if she wants to survive.
In most horror movies, you never really understand why the villains do what they do. The unknown is more frightening than the known. In Hounds of Love, however, the antagonists’ motivations are exactly what’s being examined and explored. You feel like you’re living with these characters and learning their deepest darkest secrets and fantasies. You begin to understand why they’re doing it — especially Evelyn — and it’s terrifying. You feel implicit and that’s a tough feeling to shake.
The direction, art direction, cinematography, and performances are top-notch. In many ways, the style reminded me of early John Carpenter movies like Assault on Precinct 13, but with more modern flourishes. It’s a very classically directed and constructed film in the way that the really horrific elements are kept off-screen and only implied.
Hounds of Love is currently available to rent on Amazon streaming and, in my opinion at least, it’s well worth the cost even though the experience might be “not-so-fun.” If you enjoy films that will challenge you, then Hounds of Love should be at the top of your list.