Hounds of Love

With his first foray into filmmaking, writer/director Ben Young has made a first-rate crime-drama thriller that likely will rank with the year’s strongest films. Hounds of Love is rooted in 1987 Perth, Australia. The harrowing tale concerns husband and wife John and Evelyn White (Stephen Curry and Emma Booth), who have a deadly hobby of kidnapping teen girls and generally dispatching of them when the homicidal mood strikes. One evening, a chance meeting between the Whites and young Vicki Maloney (an excellent turn by Ashleigh Cummings) leads to her being taken, sedated and chained to a bed with little hope for rescue. In lesser hands, Hounds of Love might have been merely exploitative, easily sliding into shock tactics, but director Young has deftly crafted a story of survival in the face of unspeakable evil. He suggests impending extreme violence, but it may or may not come to pass. Hounds of Love boasts a low-key, humming throb and quietly ambient soundtrack that is always present, so when it gives way to an emotional high point and well-chosen, well-timed songs—e.g., Joy Division’s “Atmosphere”—the dramatic effect is powerful.