HOUNDED *** UK 2022 Dir: Tommy Boulding. 94 mins
Here’s another variation on the oft-adapted THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME, transplanted by co-writers Dean Lines and Ray Bogdanovich (who wrote Christopher Smith’s effective THE BANISHING) to Boris Johnson’s England and unsubtly reminding us of the central themes from the get go: “Rich pricks, more money than sense…”
Malachi Pullar-Latchman leads a crew of South London thieves, first seen with partners in crime Ross Coles, Hannah Traylen and Nobuse Junior stealing a painting worth more than the average English schmuck’s annual take-home pay. Their latest target, thanks to the machinations of art dealer Larry Lamb, is a manor house in the middle of nowhere: the well-to-do owners (“This lot are all related”) are away skiing…or so it initially seems. The quartet are soon caught up in the middle of a “release the hounds” scenario in which, with fox hunting outlawed, they are relentlessly hunted by an ensemble of rich-Briton caricatures seeking the same kind of vicarious thrill, led by taser-wielding toff Samantha Bond.
Boulding’s film nods to recent class-conflict horrors like EDEN LAKE, CHERRY TREE LANE and THE OWNERS and, though not as witty or intense as any of those, has its moments. The themes are drummed home with a heavy hand: the failings of the criminal justice system, the monologues lamenting the working class reliance on handouts, scenes of our hapless anti-heroes being sprayed with piss, etc. The dialogue is consistently on the nose (“This country used to be ruled by lions, now it’s led by lambs”) but there’s some wit on display (“There’s more guns in my estate than there is in yours”) and 2022 England is hardly the place for subtlety when it comes to things like this. Efforts are made to flesh out the imperiled protagonists, each let down by the same system that allows the sadistic, privileged likes of Bond to thrive and kudos to all involved for emphasising tension over standard issue gore set pieces.
Review by Steven West
Signature Entertainment presents Hounded on Digital Platforms 31st October 2022