Having domestic abuse in my family history makes it a sensitive subject. It’s not just that abuse was normalized decades ago, it’s that a woman wasn’t even believed if they had reported it. While the idea of a Bonnie and Clyde is romanticized by modern film (i.e. Natural Born Killers), it’s actually terrifying to think of the fear and hopelessness many women have experienced. This is why I love Ben Young’s Hounds of Love, an abduction story that also shines a light on not one, but two victims.
The Australia feature, which has already won various awards, follows a young girl, Vicki Maloney (Ashleigh Cummings), who is kidnapped by a serial killer couple, John (Stephen Curry) and Evelyn White (Emma Booth). The duo torment Vicki as they struggle with their own domestic issues.
What really struck a chord within me is that Young made the conscious decision to tell the story from the perspective of Evelyn, not Vicki. In turn, Hounds of Love is about a woman freeing herself from the abuse and torment of her “lover”, who has been manipulating her since she was 13 years old. While this doesn’t negate being an accessory to murder, it does allow the viewer to experience an abduction story from a sympathetic angle, one that I’m quite sure I’ve never seen before.
Booth’s performance is so powerful that it’s hard to watch, only adding more tension behind Curry’s manipulative persuasions. It’s all glued together, however, by Young’s excellent writing and directing, which gives this ensemble a morbid sandbox to play in.
There are no twists or turns in Hounds of Love, only good old-fashioned storytelling in the vein of the most compelling “Unsolved Mysteries” or “Forensic Files” episodes. It’s an important movie, however, that I can only hope opens people’s eyes to the different kinds of abuse that happens daily right under our noses.
Hounds of Love will have its North American Premiere at SXSW on Saturday, 3/11 @1:30PM at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar.
Tuesday, 3/14 @1:30PM – Alamo Ritz
Wednesday, 3/15 @9:00PM – Alamo Ritz