Movie review: 'Hounds of Love'

Brad Keefe

We are living in a great time to be an art-house horror fan, and “Hounds of Love” is the latest entry to make it so.

This Aussie chiller deals in some unpalatable subject matter, and like any movie that does that justice, it's not easy to watch. Good. Watching human beings do despicable things to other human beings never should be.

But writer-director Ben Young seems to understand that gravity in his stunning feature debut. It's raw and stylish, but it's never getting off on its unnerving story — an important distinction for films like this.

In suburban Perth, Australia, married couple John and Evelyn White (Stephen Curry and Emma Booth) seem like a normal pair in their working-class neighborhood, but there's darkness beneath.

They offer seemingly innocent help to a teenage girl named Vicki (Ashleigh Cummings), but things take a turn when they drug her and chain her to a bed in their home.

Yes, we have seen far too many movies centered on women being confined and tortured, but “Hounds of Love” takes this dynamic in challenging directions, thanks to its central couple.

Young directs the movie with tension and precision. That discomfort you feel is intentional and the layers of complexity only add to it.

“Hounds” is meticulously shot and edited, and its three lead performances elevate it to something not easily forgotten. There are shades of “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” and the 2011 Aussie import “The Snowtown Murders.” If that sounds like your thing, don't miss this one in theaters.

“Hounds of Love”

Opens Friday at the Gateway Film Center

4 stars out of 5