Hounds is for fans of movies set in a single night filled with nerve-shredding moments and the horrible feeling that daybreak will never arrive. Moroccan director Kamal Lazraq’s debut feature also joins a long list of films that draw parallels between lowly street dogs and people forced into scramble for survival.

The 94-minute Hounds, which is out on Prime Video, is set in Casablanca, portrayed as a netherworld of crime, corruption and occasional moments of magic realism. In scenes reminiscent of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarittu’s Amores Perros (2000), Hassan watches his boss’s dog being mauled to death in an illegal fight. Hassan is asked to kidnap the winner. Instead, Hassan kills the man. The body needs to be disposed of, but how?

Hassan drags along his reluctant son Issam for a task that, apart from being ghoulish, proves near impossible. Although Casablanca is deserted, some obstacle or the other pop up to prevent Hassan and Issam from getting rid of the body.

Beautifully shot in times of dull gold and black, the suspenseful narrative eschews the comic possibilities created by an inconvenient corpse. Instead, Hounds examines the despair of barely solvent Moroccans forced to take up jobs that demean them, run the risk of arrest, and create moral dilemmas.

Both the lead characters are remarkably played by non-professionals. Abdellatif Masstouri, as Hassan, and Ayoub Elaid, as Issam, have the weathered faces and helpless body language that perfectly suit their characters. Kamal Lazraq puts his actors through the wringer, taking viewers along to on a journey with seemingly no end in sight.

Hounds (2023)

Also start the week with these films:

In ‘Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry’, a woman’s desire takes flight

Meet an Iranian serial killer in the spine-tingling ‘Holy Spider’

In ‘Wicked Little Letters’, the joys of not minding your language