Thursday, December 7, 2017

In short: Hounds of Love (2016)

Quite a few people who are probably much cleverer than I am and whose opinions I respect have written rather highly of Ben Young’s Australian horror film about a couple (Stephen Curry and Emma Booth) who kidnap and torture a mildly wayward teenager (Ashleigh Cummings). The film certainly has a lot going for it: the acting is bordering on the brilliant, the writing manages to go into theoretically highly exploitative places without ever feeling exploitative while also avoiding an impression of harmlessness, and the direction is mostly stylish and clearly knows what it wants.

Well, Young does have a tendency to overuse slow-motion montages, which is certainly effective the first two times, but by the next four or five (I lost count) uses I found myself raising my eyebrows (yes, both) at the movie. I – and I’m saying this as not a particular fan of the police as an organization - also wasn’t terribly fond of the ridiculous way the film portrays the police. Now, I understand that the plot wouldn’t work if these guys would even vaguely be interested in doing their job of at least starting to look for a disappeared white teenage middle case girl (which generally is a race, class and gender combination to get the police all hot and bothered) when the parents and boyfriend of the girl poke a piece of paper into their faces that tells them where to look, but I’ve grown a bit tired of this particular cliché, particularly when there are a myriad better ways to write oneself out of this sort of situation.

I’ve also grown a bit tired of the whole kidnapping and torturing sub-genre, I have to admit, and I think it is this more than the film’s relatively minor failings that resulted in my feeling exactly nothing about or for the characters in it, and therefore not feeling much tension, excitement or interest for what was going on.

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