Movies let us escape; whether it is a cheerful comedy to make you laugh, or a sci-fi tale far beyond anything you can imagine, films move us in a way that many other forms of entertainment cannot. Hounds of Love is one of those films.
Psychological boundaries are pushed through the film’s twists and turns, which leave audience members unable to take their eyes off the screen. For those who prefer a drama or thriller, this film ticks all the boxes. However, for anyone from Western Australia, no matter the genre of film you prefer, in this film we have an incredible, conflicting, and moving production developed right in the heart of our state that meets, if not exceeds, the expectations of million dollar Hollywood productions.
Written and directed by Ben Young, Hounds of Love takes its audience on an emotional rollercoaster from the opening scene—you know you’re in for a tough ride from the get go. Set in Perth in 1987, Vicki Maloney (Ashleigh Cummings) is abducted by John (Stephen Curry) and Evelyn White (Emma Booth), and is held captive in their suburban household. Everything in this film seems familiar to the smallest detail: set in different suburbs around Perth, the houses, small shop fronts and buildings; even the crows cawing in the distance cause a sense of nostalgia. However, it does something different to other thrillers or horrors that portray their antagonist as monstrous, but human. John and Evelyn are so authentic in the way they are portrayed as everyday, normal suburban neighbours. It makes you question the surroundings you know so well and shudder at the thought of what is really happening behind closed doors.
Ben Young directs the film in such a way that he is able to find fear in the ordinary; Curry has commented on this aspect of the film: “we are looking at the most mundane and normal things, [but] presented in a way that I have never seen before.”
It is not only the direction and the production team who achieve this brave, unsettling film, but the actors as well. From the three leads, to Vicki’s mother, Maggie (Susie Porter,) every actor portrays their character in such an authentic way that has you gripping the edge of your seat, loathing in disgust, or on the verge of tears. The film’s incredible and breathtaking cast make you question your own morals while commanding the entirety of the audience’s emotional state.
Symbolism is also an important aspect in highlighting the films themes and creating layered meaning behind the narrative. From the cinematography to the smaller design elements, as well as the props, each decision is precise and accurate, allowing the audience to delve further into this dark tale.
If you’re like me, it will also make you proud to be from Western Australia; to be a part of a place that can produce films so surprising and astoundingly brilliant.
Young states that “despite the [confronting] subject matter, the film ultimately portrays the power of love and how it can either destroy us, or help us live to see another day.”
While this film isn’t for the faint hearted, it is captivating and significant. I can honestly say I have never been in a cinema so still and silent, where everyone is so transfixed by the film.
Brace yourself: the hounds have been released.