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Hounds 18

Kamal Lazraq, Belgium, France, Germany, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, 2023, 94m.

A tense, atmospheric thriller, Hounds is Moroccan director Kamal Lazraq’s impressive feature film debut set on the streets of Casablanca. It follows a hapless father-son duo who run into trouble after a kidnapping goes wrong and things go from bad to worse.

Living precariously on the margins of society, Hassan (Abdellatif Masstouri) and his son Isaam (Ayoub Elaid) earn money as lackeys for a local crime boss, who likes to fight dogs on the side. One night, when he loses his favourite dog in a fight, he sets Hassan and Isaam the task of kidnapping his rival’s right-hand man. But things go awry from the outset, setting them on a path they must navigate with what little resources they have, forced to fly by the seat of their pants. Unfolding over one night, the film employs a dark sense of humour, imbuing its central characters a Safdie-esque quality which is cleverly used as a lens through which to view the dark underbelly of Moroccan society.

The Garden Cinema View:

The latest contender for the anxious crown of high-stress cinema: a film cycle to encompass the likes of the Safdie Brothers’ Uncut Gems and Good Time, and one-take palm-sweaters such as Sebastian Schipper’s Victoria and Philip Barantini’s Boiling Point. Hounds adheres to the one-night-odyssey structure of many of these examples, folding in episodic encounters and surreal humour that surely owes some debt to Scorsese’s yuppie nightmare, After Hours. Whilst the escalating tribulations of Hounds are suitably gripping, it’s these moments of culturally specific oddness (‘is it a donkey or is it a djinn?’) that give the film a unique flavour.  

Ayoub Elaid, Abdellatif Masstouri

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