Thursday, March 23

Special Events ArchiveBoston Underground Film Festival 2017

Hounds of Love

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Director: Ben Young
Screenwriter: Ben Young
Cast: Emma Booth, Ashleigh Cummings, Stephen Curry
2016, Australia, DCP, 108 min

A young woman is abducted by a couple; the key to her survival is to pit them against one another.

In the sun soaked suburbia of mid-80s western Australia, Evelyn and John White (Emma Booth, Stephen Curry) are wolves in lambskin. They hunt for prey, lure her into their car, then chain her in the guest room of their nondescript home. They brutalize her, relish in her misery, bury her, nap. Rinse, wash, repeat.

Elsewhere in town, teenaged Vicki Maloney (Ashleigh Cummings) is reeling from her parents’ sudden separation. Angrily defying her mother, she sneaks out of the house for a late-night party. In a series of increasingly bad decisions, she accepts a ride from the Whites, a pitstop at their home, a drink, and a joint. Soon, trapped and chained, the struggle for her life begins.

In tune with deteriorating relationship dynamics thanks to her parents, Vicki observes the weakness in the Whites’ bond and relentlessly exploits it to buy herself time. John, the driving force of the couple’s murderous ways, takes a particular interest in headstrong Vicki, much to the chagrin of desperate-to-be-loved Evelyn. In a break with modus operandi, they force Vicki to send a letter home claiming she’s run away. Her mother Maggie refuses to believe it and leaves no stone unturned in a desperate search for her beloved.

Invoking Kate Bush’s LP of the same name, Hounds of Love subtly treads similar conceptual waters. Where that album’s entire second side centers on a woman lost at sea, the film focuses on three indelibly linked women attempting to keep their heads above water in light of the harrowing circumstance that binds them. Seekers of gratuitous thrill-killing titillation are urged to bark up another tree; it’s the violence you don’t see that unsettles. Ben Young’s first feature is a feat of tension building, suspense, and restraint–an unflinching immersive nightmare that offers a bold new spin on the serial-killer genre, while drawing powerfully from its sunny setting’s own dark past.

– Nicole McControversy