Capsule Reviews: HOUNDS OF LOVE and KIDNAP | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Capsule Reviews: HOUNDS OF LOVE and KIDNAP

Capsule Reviews: HOUNDS OF LOVE and KIDNAP

Ashleigh Cummings as Vicki Maloney in HOUNDS OF LOVE (2017)

Ben Young's debut feature about a Perth married serial-killer couple (Emma Booth and Stephen Curry) who abducted a teenage girl Vicki Maloney (Ashleigh Cummings) in the late 1980s, was met with universal acclaims when it first premiered at last year's Venice Film Festival. Despite all the love (no pun intended) that this Australian-made movie gets, HOUNDS OF LOVE (which actually has nothing to do with the Kate Bush's 1985 song of the same name) only works in certain places. The movie opens promisingly in a super slow-motion tracking shot, as Michael McDermott's camera lingers on a group of uniformed teenaged girls playing a netball game. It was purposefully angled in a voyeuristic point-of-view as we witness the girls' arms, legs and thighs like a stalker staring at them. No doubt an excellent shot that promises a foreboding sense of unease and dread. Then, there's the whole scene where Vicki was being drugged by the couple, while The Moody Blues' "Night in White Satin" plays in the background. You probably never hear that classic 1967 song the same way again after watching this. All three leads (Emma Booth, Stephen Curry and Ashleigh Cummings) are excellent and the overall production design is well-realised. But what could have been this year's HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER turns out to be a half-baked effort after all. We are asked to root for the antagonists, particularly when the movie starts to focus on their relationship involving jealousy and insecurities. And yet, they are so unlikeable it's difficult to feel, let alone care about them. Finally, HOUNDS OF LOVE slacks too much till the point it becomes monotonous. Not a great serial-killer movie as I hoped for, even though it has it's few redeeming qualities.

Halle Berry as Karla Dyson in KIDNAP (2017)

True to the title itself, this long-delayed chase thriller about a single mother (Halle Berry) trying to save her kidnapped son (Sage Correa) at all cost, has been "kidnapped" and shelved for release since the movie completed in 2014. The result is largely due to the Chapter 11 bankruptcy suffered by the movie's production company, Relativity Media in July 2015. Despite the constant reshuffling on the release date and lack of marketing, KIDNAP surprises me as a solid low-budget thriller. Knate Gwaltney's screenplay is as straightforward as it goes, and that's the beauty of it. Director Luis Prieto, best known for 2012's PUSHER, made good use of the story's stripped-down approach to craft a chase thriller that will satisfy most genre fans. The pace is lean and fast, while the movie doesn't waste time with all the unnecessary build-ups. In fact, Prieto is wise enough to get economical with the establishment of Halle Berry's character and her son earlier in the movie. The elaborate car chase and other stunt works are engaging enough for a movie that cost a low-end US$21 million to make. Then, there is Halle Berry, who gives her all as the determined mother. Although the movie tends to stretch its believability on how Berry's character handling the situation, KIDNAP remains an enjoyable piece of entertainment worth checking out for.

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