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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

Honeymoon movie review (Edinburgh International Film Festival)

by MaryAnn Johanson

Honeymoon yellow light

Very effective in creating an unsettling mood, but its horrific, fantastic speculation ends, frustratingly, just when it could have gotten really intriguing.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Bea (Rose Leslie: Game of Thrones) and Paul (Harry Treadaway: The Lone Ranger) are two crazy kids in love, just married, and embarking on their honeymoon in a remote cabin in the woods in upstate New York. But it all almost instantly goes bad, when — after an encounter with a weird, possibly violent ex — Bea goes a-sleepwalking out in the forest in the middle of the night, and the next day starts behaving very oddly. Writer (with Phil Graziadei) and director Leigh Janiak, making her feature debut, drops in lots of tropes that will speak to in-the-know genre fans — those strange lights in the woods and Bea’s missing time are classic signs of an alien abduction! — and clues that maybe whatever is going on with Bea extends back to long before she ever met Paul; did she have a more nefarious motive for bringing him to this place, which has been in her family for many years, than simply showing him a piece of her childhood? Janiak brings a sure visual hand to the oversaturated horror-in-the-woods subgenre — Honeymoon is very effective in creating an unsettling mood — but it’s all too-slow build-up leading to a too-rushed payoff that is crying out for more examination. Leslie and Treadaway are wonderful, together and separately, as they cope with weird scary events that serve as a disturbing collective metaphor for newlywed life, but just when that metaphor comes to its fore is when the film pulls away. As is so often the case with movies that broach the horrific and the fantastical, Honeymoon ends, frustratingly, just when it could have gotten really intriguing.

viewed during the 2014 Edinburgh International Film Festival

Honeymoon (2014)
US/Canada release date: Sep 12 2014 (VOD same day) | UK release date: Sep 26 2014

MPAA: rated R for disturbing bloody images, sexual content and language
BBFC: rated 15 (strong violence, gory images, sex, nudity, threat, strong language)

viewed on my iPad

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • RogerBW

    I think this is something that horror filmmakers in particular can be prone to: when horror starts explaining its premises, to some extent it stops being horror and becomes fantasy or science fiction, and if what you wanted to make was a pure horror film that may be exactly what you don’t want to explore. (Indeed, you may be very bad at it.)

  • Danielm80

    Sometimes it works the other way around. Paranormal Activity was so dependent on the power of suggestion that it never got around to showing anything scary, which, for me, made it a rather dull movie except for the (fairly trite) last couple of minutes.

    I also thought the lack of a reveal was a big problem with the “Listen” episode of Doctor Who. Steven Moffat started writing about the scariest monster of all time and then realized that, if he showed it, it would never live up to the billing. But in the end, he more or less tried to explain it away as a figment of the Doctor’s imagination, which arguably proves your premise.

  • Sallyeea

    Kindda shocked that she tolerated this film. I didn’t like it at all, it was all [weak] foreplay and NO Climax. Antichrist is waayy a better film.

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