From another group of great (West) Australian talent comes the psychological thriller Hounds of Love.
The movie takes us inside the lives of John and Evelyn White, a seemingly normal couple from the outside who happen to have very dark and twisted secrets. From the first scene audience members are put in a slow motion voyeuristic position involving young girls playing sports. It quickly becomes clear that we are experiencing the predatory behaviour of John and Evelyn.
The film wastes no time portraying the two as those responsible for the abductions, torture, rape and murder of numerous young women and girls in Perth in the 80s. Instead of focusing on multiple of victims, the writer (& director Ben Young) opts to tell the story of Vicki Maloney, a teenager who ends up being lured to their home with the promise of drugs, alcohol and a lift to a party. The inner dynamics between John and his co-dependent partner, Evelyn, is also heavily explored.
Hounds of Love is not the kind of movie one would watch to relax or pass the time. It’s a heavy and disturbing story that refrains from presenting most of the violence and murderous content on screen, instead leaving it all up to the viewer’s imagination. A tactic which can leave audience members feeling more troubled.
This film comes across as purposefully restrained while unfolding the narrative & building up tension. The story allows the viewers to feel temporary hope at certain moments only to have it taken away, resulting in this movie being one of the truly effective psychological thrillers released in recent times.
Scenes between John and Vicki are perverse but moments between John and Evelyn are far more psychologically unsettling. Her strong co-dependency and “love” for a manipulative disturbed man can be hard to stomach, let alone her willingness to partake in such heinous behaviour just to satisfy him.
Performances by Stephen Curry (John), Ashleigh Cummings (Vicki) and Emma Booth (Evelyn) are outstanding. Their abilities to portray such sadistic killers and tortured victim so authentically elevates the tension within the story to a whole new level.
Unlike many other serial killer movies, Hounds of Love doesn’t fall into the trap of romanticising or turning the serial killers into almost anti-heroes. Ben Young’s approach prior to creating the story was to read real life crime books. As a result, the Whites’ abhorrent tendencies comes across quite genuine which could get under your skin.
There are some moments which could be considered filler scenes in the first quarter of the film. The purpose of them is to show life going on as normal outside while the horrors inside the house are occurring. However, these scenes cease after a short while which makes me think the film didn’t need them to convey the message.
It is also quite difficult not to think of the parallels between the Whites and a certain real life West Australian serial killer couple from the 1980s.
Overall Hounds of Love is a wonderful addition to the genre and will likely leave you thinking about it for a while once it ends.
I rate it 7.5/10
Hounds of Love will be at selected cinemas from the 1st of June. Advanced screenings will be held from the 26th to the 28th of May at Luna. Click here to listen to our interview with Stephen Curry.