Deadly Virtues: Love, Honour, Obey Movie Review
Written by Hamzah Sarwar
Directed by Ate De Jong
Written by Mark Rogers
2014, Not yet rated
Released on 11th April 2014
Edward Akrout as Aaron
Matt Barber as Tom
Megan Maczko as Alison
Deadly Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey is the first feature film from Raindance Raw Talent, the new production arm from the independently run Raindance film festival. Initially founded over two decades ago by indie maestro Elliot Grove, Raindance has been a hotbed for producing talent and championing independent film from a multitude of genres. With seasoned cult Dutch director Ate De Jong (Drop Dead Fred, Highway to Hell) at the helm, this crowd-funded labor of love carried a great weight of expectation. Playing at Film4 Frightfest’s discovery screen 2 on Sunday 22nd August, De Jong’s psycho-horror is sure to leave you feeling cold, burnt out and in dire need of a hug. It is about as heavy going as it gets. First time screenwriter Mark Rogers has quite brutally explored the treacherous impact of domestic violence in Deadly Virtues but it is so deeply buried beneath the torturous moments that it fails to connect with its audience.
This home invasion thriller opens with an intruder (brilliantly played by the menacing Edward Akrout) effortlessly breaking in to a suburban home. When he encounters a married couple having sex, he quite brutally interjects and graphically imprisons the husband,Tom (Matt Barber) in the bathtub.Tom is bound, tortured and secluded as a helpless wastrel in his own home. Meanwhile, his hysteric wife Alison (vulnerably played by the impressive Megan Maczko), is repeatedly told by the intruder that she must ‘really want and love’ the stranger A blend of sadomasochism and rape blur into an unsettling brand of cinema that is hard to stomach. It’s this opening third of Deadly Virtues that plays some twisted ode to the likes of I Spit on Your Grave (1978), it will have an audience that will relish such depravity, but for others this will feel like repeatedly running into a brick wall.
It’s not until a startling discovery in the second half that Deadly Virtues becomes intriguing. What are the real motives of the intruder? Why is he hell bent on destroying what seems like a perfectly prosperous marriage? A devastating turn of events forces the viewer to re-consider allegiances. What was once a feeling of burning sense of injustice and sympathy for a bloodied Tom quickly mutates into a raging hatred. It’s the multi-layered, stand-out turn from Megan Maczko that enables this shift to occur so seamlessly. It’s the revelatory finale that thrusts a heartbreaking backstory into the limelight. It’s a somber tale that requires a degree of patience and resilience to grind through.
The central arc that forms around the pitfalls of domestic violence is important and does serve as an acidic repellant. The symbolic practice of kinbaku eludes to the ties that bind, a strained form of bondage that has glued a marriage together. The intruder is the catalyst to spark change, the necessary force to inject Alison with the zeal to improve the condition of her rotting marriage. The intruder is the driving force and the necessary antidote for Alison to take so that she can reflect upon her predicament and take action. Deadly Virtues is a powerfully administered medicine that is bitter to taste but contains that necessary ingredient to drive home its message. Not for all tastes, be warned.
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