Plot-wise, Hounds of Love is in many ways a fairly by-the-numbers kidnapping / serial killer movie. But after a first act that hews uncomfortably close to crass, skin-crawling exploitation, its character development and attention to style are able to set it apart from less compelling grindhouse fare. Its success in those departments is noteworthy: Emma Booth’s fragile performance has rightly received a lot of praise, and the cinematography and score work well together to create an oppressive atmosphere of dread in broad daylight.
Still, Hounds of Love ultimately left me wanting, since its tedious climax – whose cleverest element is lifted directly from The Silence of the Lambs – just doesn’t stick the landing, partly because the film’s central maternal themes feel a bit hollow. Hounds of Love is about women, and I can’t help but wonder what it would have been with a female director.
Side note: I have no idea why this movie is called Hounds of Love, which wouldn’t bother me if it wasn’t already very specifically the name of an ostensibly unrelated Kate Bush song.