Introducing the Australian premiere of his latest film, Hounds of Love, at the Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival, Stephen Curry began with an apology. “I apologise in advance if anyone expected The Castle. This isn’t The Castle.”
Indeed, audiences hoping for a second round with Dale Kerrigan are sure to be disappointed. And probably disgusted. From debut director Ben Young, Hounds of Love delves into the darker side of Australia, centring on a couple, John (Curry) and Evie (Emma Booth) with a predilection for abducting, murdering and molesting teenage girls. From its opening minutes, which include super slow-mo leering at young netballers’ bodies and a montage of blood, wire and dildos, it’s clear that we’re passing through territory closer to Wolf Creek or Snowtown.
The film revolves around the abduction and escape attempts of John and Evie’s latest victim, Vicky (Ashleigh Cummings), but while the shape of the plot will be familiar to horror/thriller aficionados, Young’s screenplay gently pushes back against convention. For starters, despite setting his story in December 1987, Young avoids the genre fetishism of his contemporaries, instead opting for a washed-out aesthetic that’s more indebted to sun-bleached Perth lawns, goon sacks and faded linoleum than John Carpenter’s Halloween.