A British country sport-themed Most Dangerous Game movie. The iconography of fox hunting – red jackets, blooding, packs of hounds, tooting horns – is weird enough to show up in a bunch of movies (Gone to Earth, The Plague of the Zombies, The Final Conflict) and some of this ground has been gone over in Blooded (animal rights activists hunt hunters) and Get Duked (rural poshos hunt inner-city kids). This is also one of those movies (cf: Livide, Don’t Breathe, The Owners) where small groups of economically-distressed, not-that-bad-really thieves break into an old dark house only to find they’ve ticked off someone much worse than they are.
It’s always a bit of a hump to get past the heroes being rotten crooks, but Hounded sketches in the young heist gang reasonably well – Chaz (Malachi Pullar-Latchman) is the wheelman whose older brother Leon (Nobuse Junior) has put together a crew to finance the kid’s uni fees, while Vix (Hannah Traylen) is an angry girl from a bad background and Tod (Ross Coles) is Eastern European (though when told he’s not from here, he says he’s from Peckham). A shady antiques dealer (Larry Lamb) sends them to the estate of Katherine Redwick (Samantha Bond), where they’re to look for a ceremonial knife – they get jumped, tasered and left in the countryside to be hunted with dogs by Katherine, her brother Hugo (James Lance), father Remington (James Faulkner) and nephew Miles (Louis Walwyn), with loyal mummerset gamekeeper Mallory (Nick Moran) grumbling along to keep the sport going.
The quarry sustain an early casualty – I’m not sure if the strategy of putting bear-traps down in the meadow is compatible with horses and dogs, but it gets in some gore – and fight back with increasing desperation. The script by Ray Bogdanovich and Dean Lines is cartoonish in its social comment – Katherine speechifies about the state of the country and the ancient traditions of repressive violence she’s upholding – but doesn’t go for the outright comedy of Get Duked. Mostly, it’s a decent-enough action/survival picture … and doesn’t really get creepy until the home stretch. Directed by Tommy Boulding.
Signature Entertainment presents Hounded on Digital Platforms 31st October.