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“Hounds of Love” Movie Review by Daniel Barnes

Hounds of Love

Hounds of Love (2017; Ben Young)


By Daniel Barnes

*Opens Friday, May 12, at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco.

Well, that was unpleasant.

A stylish, squirm-inducing thriller from Australian first-timer Ben Young, Hounds of Love stars Ashleigh Cummings as Vicki Maloney, a rebellious teenager abducted from the suburbs by a couple of Mickey and Mallory-style sickos.  Young shows us the sick endgame of these slimy abductors (capture, cage, rape, kill, bury) in the opening scenes.  Therefore, we know precisely the wringer that awaits Vicki, a revelation that only adds to the eventual icky horror.

Set in Perth 1987, perhaps as a nod to the Ozploitation films of the 1970s and 1980s, probably as a pointless nostalgic indulgence, the film is gripping but stomach-turning, “effective” only in the worst possible ways.  The bulk of the film involves the evolving relationship between Vicki and her female captor, a deeply damaged woman turned murder spree accessory by a master manipulator, and Vicki’s attempts to drive the two apart.

That character dynamic is fitfully interesting, and Cummings makes for a strong scream queen.  However, it mostly feels like Young is working out ways to make rape and torture seem badass and suspenseful, which I found extraordinarily grating and gross.  Young’s most recent directing credit comes from a 2012 Australian reality show called Prank Patrol, so mystery solved, maybe?

Read more of Daniel’s reviews at Dare Daniel and Rotten Tomatoes, and listen to Daniel on the Dare Daniel podcast.