Out: 28th September / Year: 2013 / 90 mins / Rating: 15 / Matchbox Films / Dir. Ate de Jong
Over the course of a weekend, a hypnotic home invader explores and exploits the relationship of a suburban, middle class couple. His brutal torture of the husband and seduction of the wife uncovers an uncomfortable truth about their marriage and ultimately acts as a catalyst for extreme liberation.
Deadly Virtues, also known as Love Honour Obey, is a home invasion flick starts off somewhat brutally and proceeds to lapse into a strange romance story.
Things start off with married couple Tom (Matt Barber) and Alison (Megan Maczko) having sex as an unknown man (who later claims his name is Aaron, played by Edward Akrout) easily enters their home and ‘checks out’ the building before he abruptly interrupts their ‘fun’ in a violent manner. The following scenes are quite graphic as well as gritty. Aaron is shown tying up both his hostages, placing Tom in the bath tub, molesting Alison, mutilating Tom and perversely sniffing and licking Alison’s sex toy that he finds.
All these moments, and several more, make it discernible that Aaron is a dangerous man that has a very wicked side. His reason’s for inflicting the horrific events on the married couple are startling: he will let them live if Alison pretends to be his wife for the weekend and genuinely wants him to have sex with her. After the trauma he has put her through it is quite the demand that she treat him as if he were her loving husband.
This is when the as mentioned ‘strange romance’ takes over from the home invasion horror (although that threat still lingers in the actors performances). Aaron coaxes Alison into discussing her marriage, it appears it is not a happy one. Tom’s definition of being a good husband is abusive, to say the least. Yet the man holding her hostage, Aaron, treats her with such devotion (after she goes along with his plan reluctantly) that Alison seems to be genuinely attracted to him. The captor’s twisted demands look set to be fulfilled.
Despite detailing the plot, the above only touches on what happens. There are many complexities that arise during the runtime, as the relationships between the central characters alter or become more developed. While a little predictable at times, Tom and Alison have issues what a ‘shock’, it is still striking to watch what happens.
There are some issue, admittedly. Not much is offered in way of explanation for Aaron’s behaviour or his history plus Alison’s attitude adjustment towards the end seems strained.
Barber, Maczko and Akrout are all excellent actors. They handle the subject matter well and their performances do not sell the viewer short. They are essentially the only people that appear on screen during the entire run time yet this doesn’t seem a burden for them.
This movie is directed by the same person responsible for cult childhood favourite Drop Dead Fred (1991, starring the late Rik Mayall): Ate de Jong. The two films are polar opposites, some may be surprised to learn they are created by the same man. Ate certainly has ‘range’ as a director, from kid friendly fun to formidable horror he doesn’t mind tackling any genre.
What starts off as a simple home invasion movie takes on a deeper, more interesting story.