Perth-born director Ben Young introduces a touch of evil into suburban Australia in his debut feature Hounds of Love. Set in suburban Perth circa the mid 1980s, Hounds of Love depicts the horrifying events that the teenage Vicki Maloney (Ashleigh Cummings) suffers after being abducted by an incredibly disturbed serial killer couple (Emma Booth and Stephen Curry).
Billed as a horror-thriller, Hounds of Love is possibly one of the most harrowing and difficult to watch films of the year. Young’s cinematography is often fractured and rife with symbolism, often leading to sudden, shocking revelations. Young repeatedly uses slow motion capture to film the external, suburban life, warping what would otherwise be seen as perfectly normal into a distorted alternative. When the creepy Whites’ house is introduced, it is depicted in closeups of furniture and paraphernalia, from a cartoon playing on telly to a figurine of Romulus and Remus nursing from their wolf mother. But just as innocent as it initially appears, Young pulls the rug from under us to cut to a shot of bloodied, cuffed wrists and laboured breathing, and there is an intense dread that the film evokes from the unknown (Dan Luscombe’s dark, creeping soundtrack also ups the fear factor).
Hounds of Love is by no means an easy film to watch, and will have you wanting to throw a blanket over the screen from time to time at just how uncomfortable and tense some scenes will make you feel. For a debut feature, Ben Young shows plenty of promise, and this arthouse thriller is one that will carve its bloody signature into your memory with ease. Brave viewers will feel more than a twinge of genuine emotion throughout various parts of the film, and ultimately be rewarded with an immense sense of relief at the end of the film. Watch this if you want a change from a traditional thriller, and learn to enjoy the slow, crushing claustrophobia that Hounds of Love instils as you watch the women in this film struggle against the shackles that bind them.
Hounds of Love is released in UK cinemas 28th July.