The Hounds of Darkness
Dir. Peter Harper & Peter Mckeirnon (2022)
Clifford struggles with bullies even as an adult, enlisting the help of his serial killer father to deal with his childhood trauma in this British horror anthology.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Well-produced and with an intriguing motley crew of characters, The Hounds of Darkness is a delicious little indie horror anthology that makes the best of its miniscule budget that is carried by some stellar performances and a mean funny streak a kilometer wide. Percy Simpkin (Neil Gallagher) is a serial killer who is taking revenge on those who killed his wife, but he also has to deal with a son, Clifford (Colin Havey), who is reverting to his childhood after struggles as an adult. Their relationship is complicated, made ever moreso by Clifford’s childlike behavior and Percy’s pull-no-punches fatherly instincts. In order to pull his son out of his mental trauma, Percy tells stories about people who were intertwined with Clifford’s life, setting the stage for the vignettes in the film.
As with most of my anthology reviews, I’m not going to break down each of the shorts here. What I will say about this one, however, is that each short is fantastic in its own right, and the fact that Harper and Mckeirnon managed to do all of this for $1500 (or whatever the British equivalent is) is insane. Some sly camera tricks allow for live burials and funky ambience, and even some genuinely creepy scenes that utilize experimental camerawork with a dreamlike flare. As with most anthology films, not all of the pieces are created equal: some of them are pretty brilliant (and a couple of them truly excellent), while some don’t make as much sense or don’t fit as well into the over-arcing narrative. Nonetheless, it all works pretty well together and none are bad, especially given the intense limitations in the production. The humor carries throughout, which helps to blend the horror and the absurdity of much of the plot into an excellent indie horror soup.
Gallagher is the star of the show, helping even the weak points of the film to shine. Some of the humor doesn’t hit, but with his dry wit it all somehow works anyway. The writing is great for the most part, allowing each character to fully flesh themselves out despite the short length of each story. It’s a short runtime at just 1:20, so it’s easily digestible as well. All in all, it’s well worth a watch for fans of indie horror in bite-sized chunks. It’s heading to festivals soon and debuts at Rhyller Thriller in North Wales on March 11th, so you’ll hopefully get your chance to see it in a theater near you.
Who this movie is for: Anthology stans, British horror lovers, River Monsters superfans
Bottom line: Funny, charming, and legitimately creepy at times, The Hounds of Darkness is a fantastic tiny-budget British indie flick. It has enough horror elements that it fits well into the genre, but it’s got a pitch-black humor that works well for the subject matter. Each actor is fantastic in their role, but this is a star vehicle for lead Neil Gallagher. The direction is competent and capable, allowing the stories to tell themselves through character focus and ambience. This is a good one if you can find it, and it’s currently heading to the festivals so it will be breaking into its audience soon. If you’re in the UK, you can get your tickets to Rhyller Thriller here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/rhyller-thriller-tickets-490964055707?fbclid=IwAR39ZfrrNT3ylr8Qr6Jxts_v1MO8d4Tz_LcX5DctBv0DtMfD7IWgDl-Wpuc