Often in the sea of movies that come out in a given year things start to run together. Heroes defeat villains, boy falls in love with girl, and the planet is once again saved at the last possible moment. Sometimes though amidst all the explosions and PG-13 fare, you come across a movie that just plain stays with you. While not perfect it finds a way to penetrate places few movies get to and reminds you why you seek out originality in the first place. Ben Young’s “Hounds of Love” is just such a movie, one that will leave you staring at the screen in awe as the credits roll.
“Hounds of Love” takes place is Perth, Australia and the year is 1987. Vicki (Ashleigh Cummings) is a normal teenager who is dealing with the angst of her parent’s recent separation. It seems Vicki’s mother Maggie (Susie Porter) needed a new chapter in her life and left Maggie and her father at home. Vicki blames her mother for the separation and needless to say their relationship has suffered for it. While staying with her mother, Vicki plans to attend a party, something her mother forbids, but being a teenager she sneaks out. That turns out to be a mistake as she meets a couple named Evelyn (Emma Booth) and John (Stephen Curry) that offer to give her something to make the night go better. It turns out that something is not good for Vicki, as the couple drugs her and imprisons her against her will, something they have done before. Soon Vicki notices a rift between her two captives, one that she hopes to exploit in order to gain her freedom.
Right away director Young grabs you with the opening scene, as a group of girls playing volleyball is filmed in a unique form of slow motion. While everything else is moving at a crawl, the camera continues at normal speed. Young though doesn’t just impress you with his work behind the camera; he also delivers a story that causes you to lose trust in what in other films would be the possibility that things will be all right in the end. Given the right material to work with, the three leads, Cummings, Curry, and Booth shine, especially Booth who plays Evelyn, a woman who is torn between getting her kids back and the affection of Curry’s character. The mood of the film sets a tension that is hard to look away from. While it does grab you with its tense scenes, this is a film that deserves all of yours attention and is best watched with no distractions. Part of what makes this one so good is that Young chooses not to show you everything that is happening. What you are left with is just enough to know what is happening without ever seeing it. “Hounds of Love” is not one of those “on to the next” movies we see so often. What this movie ends up being is a movie that gets in your head and dwells long after you left the theater.