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SXSW Review: Hounds Of Love

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Hounds

I actually needed a few hours in order to collect my thoughts here at SXSW this year. I screened a film called Hounds Of Love and it stayed with me long after it had ended. It actually bled into all other screenings I had that day. It is poetically disturbing and a high mark in the genre world.

The film centers around John and Evelyn (Steven Curry and Emma Booth), a couple who pray on folks in their small town. They use the perceived safety of a couple into luring people into their car and then eventually back to their house where they sexually and mentally torture the unlucky person. When they abduct young Vikki (Asheleigh Cummings) their relationship begins to crack as their dynamic begins to shift.

Almost the entire film takes place within the walls of one house. The time spent in the home gives you a grounded layout and creates an atmosphere pregnant claustrophobia. The film is shot with wide lenses in tight spaces that create a subliminal need to get the hell out of the house. Beautifully shot high frame rate sequences of the suburbs show the minutia of everyday life in mesmerizing detail to contrast the prison that is created in John and Evelyn’s home.

Hounds Of Love speaks on hyperbolic levels of the most toxic and abusive relationships and how easy it is to be enabled by someone in the wrong relationship.  Both Evelyn and John have created a world with each other that justifies their sickness, by turning it into sexual deviance and a way to unhealthy way to connect and express their love. Their behavior mimics addicts or those that co-exist with physical abuse between them. The more abusive John becomes the more Evelyn is willing to take him back and the further she is removed from herself.

The cast is insanely good. Stephen Curry creates a bad guy that is one of the most despicable and easily hated bad dudes in recent history. His character’s abusive nature and manipulative ways are shown in terrifying detail. Emma Booth, who I was unfamiliar with prior to this, is someone that everyone needs to keep their eye on. Her ability to zig zag between psychotic assistant to John’s deviance and then to snap back to display a mother’s intuition is staggering. The role requires a lot and her character becomes the center of the narrative because of it. Ashleigh Cumming’s character is the glue that ties the whole narrative together, which with a film this heavy can’t be an easy thing to do. The character she starts off as changes in stages throughout. A happy teenage girl, is forced to endure and share Evelyn and John’s darkness and little by little, she becomes despondent, but finds her character’s strength through that despondence. If I had awards to hand out, these guys would all get one.

Director, Ben Young achieves a film that has echoes of Wes Craven’s early work. The level of suspense and tension he builds, comes with a heavy emotional resonance. Young, uses slow motion in a way I rarely see, he actually uses to propel and at times freeze you in the tension. The shocking last ten minutes of the film, is one sustained note that fills you with a sense of dread for one of the characters. In most films, you can tell early on how things are going to go, who is going to survive and so forth, but this dude never allows you to settle and relax. He is one of those rare filmmakers that creates danger on film with the absence of a safety net.

Hounds Of Love actually shook me. It unraveled me and took me for a terrifying journey, where I was intensely invested in the characters. I can’t even remember the last times I left a theater with my hands shaking or a film that raised my pulse but this one managed to do both and I love it all the more for doing that to me.

 

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Another Creepy Spider Movie Hits Shudder This Month

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Good spider films are a theme this year. First, we had Sting and then there was Infested. The former is still in theaters and the latter is coming to Shudder starting April 26.

Infested has been getting some good reviews. People are saying that it’s not only a great creature feature but also a social commentary on racism in France.

According to IMDb: Writer/director Sébastien Vanicek was looking for ideas around the discrimination faced by black and Arab-looking people in France, and that led him to spiders, which are rarely welcome in homes; whenever they’re spotted, they’re swatted. As everyone in the story (people and spiders) is treated like vermin by society, the title came to him naturally.

Shudder has become the gold standard for streaming horror content. Since 2016, the service has been offering fans an expansive library of genre movies. in 2017, they began to stream exclusive content.

Since then Shudder has become a powerhouse in the film festival circuit, buying distribution rights to movies, or just producing some of their own. Just like Netflix, they give a film a short theatrical run before adding it to their library exclusively for subscribers.

Late Night With the Devil is a great example. It was released theatrically on March 22 and will begin streaming on the platform starting April 19.

While not getting the same buzz as Late Night, Infested is a festival favorite and many have said if you suffer from arachnophobia, you might want to take heed before watching it.

Infested

According to the synopsis, our main character, Kalib is turning 30 and dealing with some family issues. “He’s fighting with his sister over an inheritance and has cut ties with his best friend. Fascinated by exotic animals, he finds a venomous spider in a shop and brings it back to his apartment. It only takes a moment for the spider to escape and reproduce, turning the whole building into a dreadful web trap. The only option for Kaleb and his friends is to find a way out and survive.”

The film will be available to watch on Shudder starting April 26.

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Part Concert, Part Horror Movie M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Trap’ Trailer Released

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In true Shyamalan form, he sets his film Trap inside a social situation where we aren’t sure what is going on. Hopefully, there is a twist at the end. Furthermore, we hope it’s better than the one in his divisive 2021 movie Old.

The trailer seemingly gives away a lot, but, as in the past, you can’t rely on his trailers because they are often red herrings and you are being gaslit to think a certain way. For instance, his movie Knock at the Cabin was completely different than what the trailer implied and if you hadn’t read the book on which the film is based it was still like going in blind.

The plot for Trap is being dubbed an “experience” and we aren’t quite sure what that means. If we were to guess based on the trailer, it’s a concert movie wrapped around a horror mystery. There are original songs performed by Saleka, who plays Lady Raven, a kind of Taylor Swift/Lady Gaga hybrid. They have even set up a Lady Raven website to further the illusion.

Here is the fresh trailer:

According to the synopsis, a father takes his daughter to one of Lady Raven’s jam-packed concerts, “where they realize they’re at the center of a dark and sinister event.”

Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, Trap stars Josh Hartnett, Ariel Donoghue, Saleka Shyamalan, Hayley Mills and Allison Pill. The film is produced by Ashwin Rajan, Marc Bienstock and M. Night Shyamalan. The executive producer is Steven Schneider.

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Woman Brings Corpse Into Bank To Sign Loan Papers

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Warning: This is a disturbing story.

You have to be pretty desperate for money to do what this Brazilian woman did at the bank to get a loan. She wheeled in a fresh corpse to endorse the contract and she seemingly thought the bank employees wouldn’t notice. They did.

This weird and disturbing story comes via ScreenGeek an entertainment digital publication. They write that a woman identified as Erika de Souza Vieira Nunes pushed a man she identified as her uncle into the bank pleading with him to sign loan papers for $3,400. 

If you’re squeamish or easily triggered, be aware that the video captured of the situation is disturbing. 

Latin America’s largest commercial network, TV Globo, reported on the crime, and according to ScreenGeek this is what Nunes says in Portuguese during the attempted transaction. 

“Uncle, are you paying attention? You must sign [the loan contract]. If you don’t sign, there’s no way, as I cannot sign on your behalf!”

She then adds: “Sign so you can spare me further headaches; I can’t bear it any longer.” 

At first we thought this might be a hoax, but according to Brazilian police, the uncle, 68-year-old Paulo Roberto Braga had passed away earlier that day.

 “She attempted to feign his signature for the loan. He entered the bank already deceased,” Police Chief Fábio Luiz said in an interview with TV Globo. “Our priority is to continue investigating to identify other family members and gather more information regarding this loan.”

If convicted Nunes could be facing jail time on charges of fraud, embezzlement, and desecration of a corpse.

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