Vicki (Cummings) is a typical 17-year-old, struggling with her parent’s separation and desperate to rebel. That her mother has chosen to live in the less salubrious side of town doesn’t help. When she slips out one night to go to a party, she is offered some cheap drugs from a seemingly normal-looking couple in a car. However, there is nothing normal about Evelyn and John (Booth and Curry, respectively), as - unbeknownst to the community - they are serial abductors/killers.
So far, so normal kidnap/torture horror, eh? Well, what Young does differently is to show us a side of both the victim and perpetrators that we wouldn’t normally have. While Vicki’s situation is relatable to many, Evelyn and John are a little more complex. They have had her children taken from them and it’s clearly tearing Evelyn apart, even though she is in no state to look after them. John is the man of the house and takes the lead in the abductions and, ultimate, the murders, but is himself a victim. Outside the house, he’s bullied and abused in different ways. Even though they are very depraved, Evelyn cannot bear John being alone with Vicki; the insecurities are too much and when it’s clear that John is sexually abusing their victim when she’s not there, her fractured mind-set deteriorating beyond repair. Vicki uses this to her advantage before the fraught situation spirals out of control. Even before we get to the meat of the story, we’re creeped out by the introduction sequence as the twisted couple watches a group of young volleyball players - filmed in salacious slow motion - before giving one a lift, never to be seen again. This build-up helps make the following drama so relentless and absorbing. The use of some well-known pieces of pop music only adds to the unease (how the hell did they get the license to use Cat Steven’s Lady D’Arbanville?), and by the time Joy Division’s Atmosphere rattles through the speakers, the audience is as much of a physical wreck as the characters on screen.
It’s undeniably uncomfortable viewing in places, but there are few thrillers that pack as much of a punch or are as relentlessly traumatic as Hounds of Love. It’s proof that there are still some genuinely terrifying movies out there if you’re prepared to look outside the mainstream.
HOUNDS OF LOVE / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: BEN YOUNG / STARRING: EMMA BOOTH, ASHLEIGH CUMMINGS, STEPHEN CURRY / RELEASE DATE: JULY 28TH
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10