Hounded sets its sights on Britain’s class divide with this tale of a group of young thieves who get more than they bargained for when they break into a supposedly empty manor house one night. Think Don’t Breathe, but set in the English countryside and with a bunch of homeowners who aren’t anywhere near as threatening as Stephen Lang. But despite its issues, Hounded still proves to be a fairly enjoyable watch.
We first meet the thieves in question during a previous job that also involves a lavish country home. Brothers Leon (Nobuse Jnr) and Chaz (Malachi Pullar-Latchman), along with Vix (Hannah Traylen) and Tod (Ross Coles) seem to know exactly what they’re doing and it’s clear that this isn’t just a chance break in either as they seem to know exactly what they want, taking the one item and nothing more. When the brothers enter the shop of art dealer Gregory (Larry Lamb) the next day, we learn that Gregory is behind their operation, instructing the team where and when to strike and what valuable artefact they must take in return for a large cash payment.
Having now earned enough money to put Chaz through university, Leon decides it’s time for the team to quit while they’re ahead, turning down Gregory’s offer of another lucrative job. But the rest of the team, having now got a taste for the big money, has other ideas. Leon is eventually persuaded to take on the job, which involves breaking into the estate of Katherine Redwick (Samantha Bond) in order to steal a ceremonial knife. The job seems to be going to plan until they discover that the house isn’t empty for the evening after all. And someone has been expecting them.
After being jumped and tasered, the gang come round the next morning to find themselves bound, gagged and travelling in the back of a range rover. Following some muffled screaming and shouting, the vehicle comes to a stop and the back opens up to reveal the homeowner Katherine Redwick and her gamekeeper, Mallory (Nick Moran, suitably equipped with flat cap and sideburns), who throws each of the group out into the straw field where they’ve stopped. Katherine then launches into a monologue about the failings of the criminal justice system, and how there used to be a natural order of the classes before the working class started believing that they had a right to handouts. She goes on to tell the group that “when a job needs doing, one must do it one’s self”, before dousing them all in urine, removing their restraints and wishing them “good luck and godspeed”, returning to the range rover and then driving off. Assuming that to be the end of their punishment, the four make their escape by running across the open fields, but it’s not long before the sound of fox hunting horns and baying dogs can be heard in the distance and they realise they’re not quite out of the woods just yet. Fox hunting may well be banned, but it’s human hunting that’s on the agenda for today!
The trick with a movie like this is in getting you to root for the criminals rather than those who were initially the victims and thankfully it doesn’t take long for Hounded to turn the tables in favour of young criminals. Those doing the hunting are a nasty bunch, hindered by the fact that the script for those characters isn’t. Surprisingly, the more experienced members of the cast playing the hunters are seriously outshined by the younger newcomers being hunted. Katherine is joined on the hunt by her family – father Remington (James Faulkner), brother Hugo (James Lance), and nephew Miles (Louis Walwyn) – and we see them all enjoying a break from proceedings, sitting at a table that’s been placed in a field while being waited on by staff. Meanwhile, Leon and his friends continue to be fleshed out as likeable characters thanks to some solid writing as they work together as a team. Consequently, it’s not long before we’re longing for the roles to be reversed and for the hunted to get the upper hand.
Hounded is more interested in the thrill of the chase and the social commentary than any gruesome violence or horror, though both sides do suffer unpleasant casualties. I wasn’t quite sure how well thought out a field full of bear traps was though, especially when you’re planning on following with large numbers of hounds and horses. Overall, Hounded didn’t disappoint, keeping me entertained throughout and delivering a solid and satisfying ending.
Signature Entertainment presents Hounded on Digital Platforms 31st October
Web developer by day, with a movie and TV watchlist that continues to grow as much as my spare time reduces! My favourite movie is Inception and, despite what everyone says, I do not have a man-crush on Tom Cruise.