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Ashleigh Cummings

“HOUNDS OF LOVE”  My rating:  

108 minutes | No MPAA rating

The temptation is to dismiss “H0unds of Love” as seedy exploitation, a bit of torture porn.

Except that Ben Young’s debut feature won’t allow us that easy way out. It is too well made — and especially too well acted — for us to simply turn our backs on its unpleasantness.

Loosely inspired by David and Catherine Birnie, a real life couple in Perth, Australia, who in the ’80s abducted and killed four young women, this creepy nail biter pits a surprisingly resilient teenage girl against a pair of serial killers.

John and Evelyn White (a spectacularly good Stephen Curry and Emma Booth) live in a nondescript suburb of Perth.  They’re not particularly popular with their neighbors, who would be horrified to learn what goes on in their utterly ordinary-seeming house.

The two snatch and imprison young women.  These victims are terrorized and abused and finally killed by John, who buries the bodies in a nearby forest.

Their latest prize, Vickie (Ashleigh Cummings), is a high schooler embittered over the recent divorce of her parents and acting out by sneaking away at night to party with her friends.  She’s walking to one of these shindigs late at night when the Whites pull up in their car and offer her a lift and a joint.

As writer and director Young doesn’t dwell on the brutality inflicted on Vickie.  The really awful stuff happens behind closed doors, out of sight (if not out of hearing).

What makes “Hounds…” so compelling is the psychological lay of the land.

(more…)

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