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article imageReview: ‘Hounds of Love’ is made for the amateur criminal profiler Special

By Sarah Gopaul     May 15, 2017 in Entertainment
‘Hounds of Love’ is a fact-based Australian serial killer movie, featuring unnervingly convincing performances that allow audiences to imagine the worst.
Entertainment mediums, particularly primetime television crime dramas, would have audiences believe serial killers are lurking in every corner of the world, even though it’s a relatively uncommon phenomenon. Nonetheless, it’s the idea that a neighbour could be repeatedly killing and no one ever knowing that disturbs most people — as it should. Yet the public’s fascination with serial killers never seems to waver and therefore neither does the content linked to this strange culture. The latest film to approach this subject is the Australian Hounds of Love.
Vicki (Ashleigh Cummings) is a rebellious teenager upset by her parents’ divorce. But her partying is taking a toll on her grades, so her mother forbids her to go to out… which she then does anyway. However, they live in a suburban neighbourhood and the nearest transportation is a fair walk… especially at night. When a couple, John and Evelyn (Stephen Curry and Emma Booth), offers her some cheap weed and a phone to call a cab, Vicki accepts. Suddenly drugged and tied to a bed, she is bound to be their next victim. What follows is several days of physical and mental torture, breaking her spirit until death becomes an acceptable — if not welcome — escape.
The film is conveniently set in 1987, so Vicki’s options to call for help are limited; there are no cellphones or internet to sneak access to, nor can anyone reverse locate any of Vicki’s technology… though writer/director Ben Young does find an interesting way around the latter in his feature debut. Unfortunately, the disturbed couple’s neighbours are of little assistance either. The kidnapped teen is spirited and tries to escape more than once, but her attempts are somewhat ill-conceived and tend to have poor results. In the meantime, the police are predictably uninterested in the series of “runaway” girls fleeing the area.
In spite of conceiving of this deranged couple inspired by various murderers, Young leaves the worst of their transgressions to the audience’s imagination by having them occur behind closed doors, only providing a glimpse of the before and after. He uses this method several times throughout the film, though the first time may be the most narratively effective as Evelyn is stuck on the other side of the door with the viewer. Her relationship with John is complicated, but the script hints that she was probably one of his earliest prey so Evelyn may draw some sympathy from the audience as well.
Young weaves the characters’ psychological profiles into the narrative so viewers/amateur profilers can assess them and try to determine the various influences on their temperaments. The actors have difficult roles to play, but they convincingly portray their respective characters regardless of how challenging a scene may be. Curry and Booth unquestionably have the most trying characters, though for very different reasons; yet, they both deliver excellent performances as sadist and victim.
Director: Ben Young
Starring: Emma Booth, Ashleigh Cummings and Stephen Curry
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