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Blu-ray Review: Hounds of Love – “Harrowing and tense”

The 22nd of January sees the UK Blu-Ray debut of Hounds of Love. Based on real-life crimes, it stars Ashleigh Cummings (Tomorrow, When The War Begins), Stephen Curry (The Castle) and Emma Booth (Once Upon a Time), and is written and directed by Ben Young (Prank Patrol).

In 80s Australia schoolgirl Vicki (Cummings) is having problems and showing out because her mum and dad are splitting up. Clashing with her artistic mother Vicki is forbidden from attending a party and sent to bed – but rebelliously sneaks out anyway. Unfortunately for Vicki, a deranged couple, Evelyn (Booth) and John (Curry) are on the prowl that night and trick her into their car with the promise of drugs – and into their home with the caveat of just one drink.

Once home, Vicki is drugged and chained to a bed by the pair of serial killers and must struggle to survive. John is sexually fascinated with her, and Evelyn is sad and lonely – following her children being taken into care – and Vicki attempts to use this to her advantage, playing mind games to pit the two against each other. While Vicki does what she can to stay alive, her parents and boyfriend search for her and may unwittingly already have a clue about her whereabouts.

Hounds of Love is harrowing and tense and not for the faint of heart. Vicki’s capture and treatment is gruelling and heart-breaking, but cut with a hope that springs from the underlying cunning and intelligence that Ashleigh Cummings subtly brings to the part. Director Ben Young also carefully gives reasons to sympathise with her murderous abductors – we see that John is a bullied loser outside of his house and attempting to exert control over his wife and hostage in an attempt to regain some power.

Stephen Curry still provides plenty of menace though, imbibing John with a desperate and dirty lust for Vicki, and gaslighting his starved of love wife into being his accomplice. Emma Booth’s Evelyn may be pitiful, but is also wise to Vicki’s escape attempts and not afraid to instantly pull a knife if she suspects something.

Young’s dialogue is naturalistic, while his pacing-induced a horrible dread and suspense. Dark, nasty and pulling no punches, his approach makes for an uneasy film with a camera that calmly stays a room away to allow certain scenes to breathe – but can also conjure, and then slice through, strangely beautiful slow-motion shots of an Australian suburbia that hides horrifying evil.
The Arrow Film Blu-Ray (DVD also available) features a perfect 1080p presentation with highly detailed blacks that pick out pinpricks of light in Vicki’s eyes in the inky darkness of her cell. The 5.1 audio stays up front for the majority of the film, but when shit gets real Vicki’s screams bounce around the rears and the LFE pumps out bass for days.

There is a nice array of extras provided too: interviews with actors Stephen Curry, Emma Booth and Ashleigh Cummings, a Behind-the-Scenes, Ben Young’s two previous short films – Something Fishy and Bush Basher,a music video directed by Young, the film’s theatrical trailer, and even a reversible sleeve featuring two artwork options.

Hounds of Love is available on DVD/Blu-Ray/download in the UK now.

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