Hounds of Love

Viewed – 01 January 2018  online-rental

I consider abduction / kidnap as one of the most disturbing crimes anyone can do to another person, so sat down to this Australian thriller with a mixture of trepidation and intrigue.  This tells the story of a teenage schoolgirl who falls victim one night to a sexually depraved couple, who abduct and then imprison girls in their suburban house, using them for their sexual needs before discarding them once they’re bored … usually leading to a shallow grave in the woods.


Inspired by real life crimes of a similar type, this pulls no punches.  It’s shot in a very realistic and voyeuristic style, that makes for very uncomfortable viewing, although I found myself absorbed thanks to strong performances, especially from Ashleigh Cummings as Vicki in a harrowing turn.  Director Ben Young doesn’t linger too much on the more violent or sexual aspects, instead choosing to cut away and leave a lot to the imagination … whilst keeping enough in to hammer home the full extent of the couple’s depravity.  I should also point out the atmospheric score, subtle but well judged to increase the intensity.  The exploration of the couple’s brittle relationship was also well observed, along with how Vicki attempts to drive a wedge between them.

I felt support characters like the boyfriend and father were under-developed and Police are as usual portrayed as incompetent idiots.  It also gets a bit predictable in the final act.  That being said I came away rather affected by this, and therefore give it a firm recommendation.

Verdict:  4 /5


What I’m watching

I thought I’d write a small post about the TV shows I’m currently watching and my brief thoughts on each.  Over the last few weeks some have had new seasons start and it’s been fun getting back into familiar characters and storylines.  One such programme is Orange Is The New Black which has become one of my favourite shows even though I struggled through season one initially.  However the show has gone from strength to strength and this fourth season is already looking very promising.


I am also quite addicted to House of Cards which is currently at four seasons but I’ve been rather late to the party and am working my way through season two.  I’m loving watching Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright etc. manipulate, corrupt and conspire their way through U.S. congress.  I’ve almost finished the latest season of Game of Thrones, a show I began watching simply because so many people I knew were talking about it and so I caved in and took the plunge and am so happy I did.  The earlier seasons were a bit reliant on sex and violence and well, shock factor and that hasn’t changed much but with a greater knowledge of all the characters I’ve really found myself absorbed by it all and it probably is the best big budget drama on TV at the moment.


One I’m struggling with this season is Daredevil – following a riveting, surprising and addictive first season, this second helping has felt a lot more drawn out and tiresome, wasting a pivotal character’s inclusion by descending into yawnsome courtroom drama … but I still like the main characters and will stick with it to see how this season concludes.

WentworthPrisonTwo shows I’ve also started watching again are Wentworth Prison and Luther, the former being the Australian women’s prison drama that’s loosely based on cult Ozzy soap Prisoner Cell Block H and is really well done and stylish and at times quite violent.  It’s been very good since its inception and this season doesn’t look like faltering on that initial promise.  The latter is a British crime drama series with Idris Elba as a cop who specialises in solving serial murder cases whilst at the same time battling his own psychological demons.  It’s a bit samey from episode to episode but the shock factor of some of the storylines and Elba’s performance has drawn me back to this one after a long break.

Well those are the shows I’m currently into and enjoying so far, between movie watching, music listening and occasional gaming.


Movie Night

What have I been up to lately?  Well I can’t recall if I had mentioned this but over the last few months I’ve begun a ‘movie night’ with my Dad.  Each Tuesday we watch a movie and have some popcorn.  It’s nice and also an excuse to get some movie watching in.  It’s not always a new movie though so sometimes I don’t have a review to post afterwards.  Last Tuesday was such a case, as we watched the horror ‘Oculus’ which I previously reviewed.  Again I enjoyed it and my Dad got a lot out of it too.  So in coming weeks you may get to see more reviews, but if there is a lull, it’s probably down to us watching something I’ve already reviewed (I have ‘John Wick’ lined up for Tuesday).

metal-gear-solid-5-the-phantom-painIn other news I have been playing a great deal of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain.  It’s my first proper stab at a Metal Gear game since Metal Gear Solid 2, and even though I purchased Metal Gear Solid 3, I didn’t play it all that much, and I skipped Metal Gear Solid 4.  What do I think of this latest entry?  Like many games these days, it’s open world and huge, with side quests (ops) and a large storyline that I am only really touching the surface of.  Graphically it’s pretty lush.  The wildlands of Afghanistan are immensely detailed and atmospheric and look fantastic, especially with sand storms, day to night cycle and great textures, lighting and effects – even if the water is a bit last-gen.  I like the concept of mother base too, your hub location where you can build up your army (from kidnapping enemy soldiers) and adding to the facilities for developing better equipment for use in the field.  It’s very absorbing stuff.  It also plays really well.  Metal Gear pretty much invented the stealth genre and the ideas here work superbly, with the Fulton delivery system (the ability to attach a balloon to a knocked out enemy, animal or piece of equipment, and immediately send it back to mother base) proving a great deal of fun.  That’s not to say it’s easy as the game takes no prisoners if you get discovered, and the intelligent enemies will hunt you down and nine times out of ten, end your game swiftly.  I’m having a great time with it, but like I said – it’s still early days.

I also got my hands on Gears of War: Ultimate Editon, which looks great…it was always a very well made shooter and had some good characters and a great concept.  The gameplay hasn’t aged badly at all and you can see how the game has influenced a ton of games since it came out, especially with the rock-solid cover-mechanic and the satisfying gunplay.  Graphically it’s quite a step-up from the original, and the textures, lighting and everything looks really good.  I’d say some of the design; of the characters and levels has moved on a bit, but it’s still worth revisiting.

Garbage-20Other than this, I’m still in run up mode to November, where two things are happening…firstly on November 9th I finally get to see in concert my favourite band of all-time ‘Garbage’ of which it’s a special 20th anniversary tour to celebrate the anniversary of their debut album, and loads of things are happening online at the moment, such as regular updates on the band’s Twitter, Facebook, Periscope and Instagram accounts, as well as a re-release of the album in special packaging, on CD, Vinyl and digital complete with remixes, b-sides and specially re-mastered versions of the individual tracks.  I obviously have stuff pre-ordered, and am looking forward to it a great deal.  Next up is my 40th birthday on the 14th.  Now I’m not big on fuss or attention, it can make me uncomfortable…but hey I’m hitting the big 4-0 so may as well make the most of it.  Not sure what that’s going to be right now, but as I’ll be in London leading up to it, that’s a good a start as any.

On TV I’ve been finishing up season 3 of Orange Is The New Black which has once again been great.  I’m also watching Game of Thrones (currently working my way through season 3) and Australian prison drama Wentworth, which I highly recommend.


I’m sitting here also at the start of a week off from work.  Damn work has felt gruelling of late.  I’ve also got my head in a slightly better place than it’s seemed to have been in a while.  Depression, thoughts of things that have happened to me in the past etc. can linger and it’s easy to wallow in it, but it never does me any good or solves anything … so even though moving completely on seems like the hardest thing to do some days, I’m trying my hardest.  I really am.  Having good work colleagues and a job I enjoy and a good family around me helps a great deal and makes me wake up to myself.

So here’s to relaxing, watching movies, playing games and a few days out.  I’m looking forward to it!

Wolf Creek 2

Viewed – 23 September 2014  Online rental

I recall being rather underwhelmed by the popular but fairly lightweight original, and thought it’s lengthy build up to the horror and the reveal of the killer was too drawn out.  In it’s final moments it began to come to life and had at least one stand out, nasty scene (head on a stick!).  So imagine my surprise on reading several favourable reviews of this sequel.


Outback serial killer Mick Taylor, a bushman if ever there was a bushman in the wilderness of Australia, spends much of his time picking off tourists and back-packers who come to visit the eerie location of a huge crater, supposedly made by a meteorite.  With a fine line in Ozzy lingo and Australian history, he especially enjoys killing foreigners or anyone not well versed in the land of Oz. 

Shot well and with a keen eye for gore and violence, this feels like it’s on the right track, and is a lot more action-packed, with this time Mick being centre stage.  Now unlike the original, the mystery and atmosphere is missing in place of some stand out kills (the cops…).  Also unlike last time around there’s no real time to get invested in the innocent victims before Mick is despatching them.  Now Mick himself, played larger-than-life by John Jarratt is an interesting creation, but because the movie is all focused on him, his clichéd bushman swagger and often comical lines turns many of his scenes into farce (a truck chase to the tune of The Lion Sleeps Tonight … really?), and loses much of his potential menace – like what they did to Freddy Krueger in the Elm Street sequels.  Oh and would it have hurt to get a bit more backstory on him?  Or any for that matter. 

For the ample gore and plenty of energy, this was still fun, but for a horror it relied too much on one liners and in-jokes than actually scaring it’s audience – a big fail in my book.  Hopefully they won’t bother with Wolf Creek 3.

Verdict:  2.5 /5