Review: Hounds of Love (2016)

Ben Young’s astounding debut feature film is one of the most disturbing movies we’ve seen of ALL TIME. That’s quite the accolade. It’s a horrific and claustrophobic study of a serial killing couple in Perth, Australia – John (Stephen Curry) and Evelyn White (Emma Booth – superb), who abduct, torture and kill teenage girls. Young takes ‘inspiration’ from the infamous serial murders in Perth during the 1950s and the crimes of David and Catherine Birnie, who murdered four women in the city in 1986. A fifth intended victim escaped…

Although John and Evelyn’s relationship is messed up, to others they come across as a normal young-ish couple and here lies the horror. Hounds of Love addresses the unthinkable that can happen behind closed doors – do we ever truly know anyone in our neighbourhood? What atrocities and perversions are being committed? It’s designed to make us all very uncomfortable indeed.

When teenager Vicki (Ashleigh Cummings) sneaks out of her Mum’s house to go to a late night party, and is approached by John and Evelyn in their stalking car to give her a lift, the sense of dread and gloom builds. The depraved couple tempt Vicki back to their house and she is drugged – in a haze she realises her fate as she is tied to a bed, whilst John and Evelyn dance, sexually charged, to the Moody Blues ‘Nights in White Satin’. It’s really, really nasty and upsetting.

As Vicki is held captive, we do move into torture porn territory and it’s all rather grim. Throughout Evelyn is seen to be jealous of Vicki and worried that John desires Vicki more. Vicki is the victim and horrific things do happen to her which will test most audiences to continue watching, but she’s also setting the wheels in motion to fight back. And her Mum is desperate to find her which leads to some very emotional scenes.

Hounds of Love is extremely hard to watch and won’t be for everyone. But if you have the stomach, you’ll witness a beautifully shot film with solid performances – and you’ll ensure your door is firmly locked at night.

GORE RATING: 2/5
SCARES: 2/5
DISTURBIA: 5/5
RATING: 9/10
Watch it for: An intelligent but horrific serial killer flick
Watch out for: The second most disturbing use of the Moody Blues in horror – see also Rob Zombie’s Halloween II

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Now watching: The Alienist

Netflix’s The Alienist is an intriguing premise with a star cast –  Daniel Brühl, Luke Evans and Dakota Fanning team up in 1890s New York City to investigate a serial killer preying on street children. Brühl plays Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, the so-called ‘alienist’, a criminal psychologist – those suffering from mental illness at the time were said to be alienated from their true natures, so the experts who studied them were known as alienists.

It’s a suitably gruesome and dark series, with New York City looking fantastically grubby but recognisable. It reminds us of the feel of The Knick with a little bit of Penny Dreadful and we’re really enjoying it. Evans is a hoot. Do give it a try.

31 scary movie moments – 31) Michael Myers wakes up behind Laurie in Halloween (1978)

There couldn’t be anything else. This is our scariest moment in horror, when supposedly out for the count Michael Myers (Nick Castle) – the ultimate Boogeyman – wakes up behind unsuspecting Final Girl Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). It’s the ultimate jump, a masterpiece by John Carpenter of scary things happening just out of your main gaze, a classic of evil never being dead/the persistent threat never-ending, and a seminal slasher.

31 scary movie moments – 28) Mother is revealed in Psycho (1960)

One of the greatest chillers of all time, we all know about THAT famous shower scene. The part that really scares us is when Lila Crane (Vera Miles) – the sister of missing Marion (Janet Leigh), the motel shower victim – discovers what really happened to Norman Bates’ (Anthony Perkins) mother. She may be sitting in a chair, but as she’s turned around she’s revealed to be a mummified corpse…and then Norman bursts into the room with a knife, dressed as his mother. Yikes!

31 scary movie moments – 19) Nancy’s school dream in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

One, two, Freddy’s coming for you…Wes Craven’s horror tour de force introduced the world to icon Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) and also caused a generation of kids to have insomnia. Watching it back now, it’s still blinkin’ scary and one of the spookiest bits is when our lead Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) falls asleep at school and is tempted out of the classroom by her dead friend Tina (Amanda Wyss), who is talking to her from inside a bloody body bag. Horrid.

Time for some hot chocolate…not tired…at all. Must…stay…awake…

 

 

31 scary movie moments – 18) The dinner party in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

By the time we reach the infamous dinner party sequence in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, we’re terrorised already. And then this happens. It’s savage, it’s horrible, it’s OTT and it’s bloody, bloody brilliant. Final girl Sally (the best Scream Queen ever, Marilyn Burns – rest in peace) is subjected to the Come Dine With Me from hell as she gets to know Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) and his family a little better. This includes a comatose and pretty dead looking Grandpa (John Dugan) sucking her cut finger, then in a horrific moment of black humour failing to bludgeon her. You want to stop watching…but you can’t. It’s beyond scary.

31 scary movie moments – 13) The opening of Maniac (2012)

Franck Khalfoun’s remake of the infamous 80s slasher is brutal from the very start, even before we’ve had the main film title. Elijah Wood’s serial killer Frank Zito stalks a woman, and then murders and scalps her. It’s all set to a haunting 80s synth score by Rob, leading into a really difficult and uncomfortable film to get through. The opening lets you know exactly what you’re in for.