Review: Hounds of Love (2016)

Ben Young’s astounding debut feature film is one of the most disturbing movies we’ve seen of ALL TIME. That’s quite the accolade. It’s a horrific and claustrophobic study of a serial killing couple in Perth, Australia – John (Stephen Curry) and Evelyn White (Emma Booth – superb), who abduct, torture and kill teenage girls. Young takes ‘inspiration’ from the infamous serial murders in Perth during the 1950s and the crimes of David and Catherine Birnie, who murdered four women in the city in 1986. A fifth intended victim escaped…
Although John and Evelyn’s relationship is messed up, to others they come across as a normal young-ish couple and here lies the horror. Hounds of Love addresses the unthinkable that can happen behind closed doors – do we ever truly know anyone in our neighbourhood? What atrocities and perversions are being committed? It’s designed to make us all very uncomfortable indeed.
When teenager Vicki (Ashleigh Cummings) sneaks out of her Mum’s house to go to a late night party, and is approached by John and Evelyn in their stalking car to give her a lift, the sense of dread and gloom builds. The depraved couple tempt Vicki back to their house and she is drugged – in a haze she realises her fate as she is tied to a bed, whilst John and Evelyn dance, sexually charged, to the Moody Blues ‘Nights in White Satin’. It’s really, really nasty and upsetting.
As Vicki is held captive, we do move into torture porn territory and it’s all rather grim. Throughout Evelyn is seen to be jealous of Vicki and worried that John desires Vicki more. Vicki is the victim and horrific things do happen to her which will test most audiences to continue watching, but she’s also setting the wheels in motion to fight back. And her Mum is desperate to find her which leads to some very emotional scenes.
Hounds of Love is extremely hard to watch and won’t be for everyone. But if you have the stomach, you’ll witness a beautifully shot film with solid performances – and you’ll ensure your door is firmly locked at night.
Watch it for: An intelligent but horrific serial killer flick
Watch out for: The second most disturbing use of the Moody Blues in horror – see also Rob Zombie’s Halloween II