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« Tribeca 2017: Super Dark Times | Main | Best Actress - April Foolish Oscar Predix »

Tribeca 2017: Hounds of Love

by Jason Adams

Even people who profess to like horror movies don’t always like it when horror movies make them really uncomfortable. It’s why you see F grade Cinema-scores for truly disturbing flicks like Wolf Creek  - we want to be scared in a fun way, but we don’t want to waltz with actual despair. There’s a scene in Wes Craven’s  Last House on the Left that made me feel so awful it still haunts me to this day.

Hounds of Love, the first film from Aussie director Ben Young, waltzes with such awfulness, and might just announce a real talent a la Craven too...

We’ll have to wait and see – I said the same thing about Snowtown director Justin Kurzel a couple of years ago but he’s decided (not insanely) he’s only in the Michael Fassbender business for the time being.

Snowtown is pertinent here though because Hounds of Love plays like the rom-com version of that film (minus the “com” anyway) – John and Evelyn White (Stephen Curry and Emma Booth) are a small town couple in love who get their kicks on the weekends by kidnapping teenage girls and chaining them to a bed in their nondescript suburban home for rape and torture. And the film doesn’t shy away from its subject – it pushes our face right into it, taking us along for the horrible ride with the White’s latest captive, rebellious and smart 17 year-old Vicki (Ashleigh Cummings), who was just looking for some weed and a night out from under her mother’s claustrophobic eye. The film sometimes pushes our faces in too close, actually – close-ups of Cumming’s face in abject terror are not few and far between.

But should they be? When a film tackles these subjects (and this film is based on two true tales) it’s important for the horror to be actually horrific. Sometimes exploitation and grotesque titillation – images that stir up sickening and angry and confused feelings inside the audience, implicating us alongside the actors on-screen – are necessary, honestly. No matter how much we might want to shield our eyes from it there needs to be room for cruelty in artistic expression. Without looking how can we ever begin to understand?

The three leads all give dedicated performances but Emma Booth in particular is strong, showing us a conflicted and spiraling out of control woman whose own urges are eating her up. And the film is masterfully shot – there are these astonishing moments where the camera speeds along a scene in slow motion, a sort of horizontal Vertigo, that beggar belief. I’d have never guessed this was Young’s first feature.

Hounds of Love plays at Tribeca Film Festival: 10:15 PM (4/21), 10:00 PM Mon (4/24), 10:15 PM Tues (4/25)

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Reader Comments (3)

A very effective disturbing trailer

April 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

It played at a film festival I worked for last year and people were repulsed. So a good time, then.

April 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

I like films, horror or not -- genre is not an issue -- that challenge the viewers. Even if it brings them to uncomfortable latitudes within themselves. It looks like Hounds of Love is that kind of film.

Plus, any reference to Kate Bush is always a refreshing welcome.

April 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

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