Hounds of Love (4 stars)

Hounds of Love

This disturbing, true-life inspired horror is an impressive calling card for director Ben Young

Once you've seen Australian writer-director Ben Young's impressive debut, it's difficult to forget. Set in the sweltering heat of a residential street in Perth during Christmas, 1987, it's mostly confined to the claustrophobic quarters of a serial killer couple who abduct, torture and murder young women and is inspired by the Moorhouse murders. A stylish and disturbing opening sequence assumes the male sexual predator's gaze; although Young guides his camera slowly over the bodies of teenage girls, the majority of the film delves deep into the psychology of the female co-conspirator.

All the performances are superb and, as the film takes you through the ordeal of 17-year-old captive Vicki (Ashleigh Cummings) who spots the chinks in the relationship of Evelyn and John White (Emma Booth and Stephen Curry), the portrayals of depravity and desperation are convincingly executed. Vicki's determination to drive a wedge between the two in order to save her life is nailbitingly suspenseful. Thankfully, Young doesn't linger on Vicki's torture – veering the camera away and, instead, using the sound of her screams and images of bloody rags to paint a harrowing picture akin to Justin Kurzel's Snowtown.

The beastly title references the Kate Bush track and album and, if none of Bush's songs are used here, the film blends the feelings of terror and insatiable desire from the record to create a palpable intensity.

All the women in Hounds of Love are looking to break free from something – Vicki quite literally from her captors, Evelyn from a vicious coupling, and even Vicki's mum Maggie (Susie Porter), who is loosening the ties that bind her to her ex-husband. Young's fascination with the nature of toxic and co-dependent relationships operates on many levels, while he suggests that this moment in time marked a huge loss of innocence.

Selected release from Fri 28 Jul.

Hounds of Love

  • 4 stars
  • 2016
  • Australia
  • 1h 48min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Ben Young
  • Cast: Emma Booth, Ashleigh Cummings, Stephen Curry

Set in the sweltering heat of a residential street in Perth during Christmas, 1987, Hounds of Love is mostly confined to the claustrophobic quarters of a serial killer couple who abduct, torture and murder young women and is inspired by the Moorhouse murders. Once you've seen Australian writer-director Ben Young's…

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