I thought I posted this yesterday, but apparently not… so, get ready for two posts today: this one and then my weekly roundup.
The streak continues… I can’t believe my luck… another enjoyable movie… not perfect, but definitely something interesting. The first thing I have to say about Honeymoon (and I will come back to this a few times) is that it completely surprised me… I can’t remember the last time a horror movie surprised me. I didn’t see the ending coming…but, at the same time (and this is extremely important), the ending didn’t seem cheap or tacked on… it was there (sometimes right in front of you) the entire time.
I can’t tell you much about the plot of Honeymoon… in part because I don’t want to give too much away, but also because there is not much to tell. The movie is more about creating a sense of dread and paranoia than it is about specific plot points. I’ll give it my best shot though… Two newlyweds go on their honeymoon (hence the title) to Bea’s (the wife’s) family’s remote cabin in the woods. Bea goes missing one night and returns… changed… the difference is subtle at first but becomes more and more noticeable to Paul (the husband). The remainder of the movie is a wonderfully paranoia inducing, almost claustrophobic psychological thriller (with major horror undertones). Paul spends most of the movie trying to figure out what (if anything) happened to Bea that night… and we’re taken along for the ride.
The strength of this movie rests (almost fully) in the laps of the two leads (Rose “you-know-nothing-Jon-Snow” Leslie and Harry Treadaway). For all intents and purposes this movie is a two-person play (in fact, there are only four actors total in the film… and the other two have maybe a total of five minutes of screen time). Therefore, in order for the film to work, the actors need to sell it… and do so in a believable way. They knock it out of the park. You buy Paul’s fear and paranoia… you also truly believe that Bea is unaware and frightened by the changes that are happening to her. The acting (much like the rest of the movie) is subtle and that’s what makes it so effective. I also enjoyed the gender role reversal in the movie. Paul is clearly a city-boy… uncomfortable with nature and the outdoors. There are several scenes where Bea has to step in and take control of the situation. This accomplishes what happens in most horror movies where the female lead is the victim: it increases the tension and suspense. In many scenes, Paul comes across as helpless and you start to worry for his safety. Finally, I have to say a few (spoiler-free) words about the resolution of the movie. I decided to go with the word “resolution” since as I was watching the film I started to get a bad feeling that it was going to be one of those horror movies that just ends… without any explanation. Fear not, this movie resolves… and, it does so without exposition… which is refreshing. The answers are there… you just need to decide whether or not you will accept them. What I mean by that is you spend nearly the entire movie trying to get to the bottom of what happened (and is continuing to happen) to Bea. There are hints (and misdirects) along the way. Several times I stumbled on the answer and simply dismissed it… so, when the mystery is answered it comes as a surprise since almost anything seems like a plausible answer.
That leads me another point about the movie; you could go almost the entirety of it without realizing you’re watching a horror film. I mean it’s categorized as horror and there are definitely elements throughout (music cues, camera tricks, etc.), but if someone were to just turn the movie on and tell you nothing about it you would (for probably the first three-quarters of the film) think it was a straight-forward drama. I wanted to start a new paragraph with this statement because I could see many people (understandably) arguing that this is a weakness of the film. Personally, I thought it added to the experience since it allows you to rule in many more (mundane) explanations for what’s going on… this adds to the shock at the end.
I want to recommend this movie completely. I want to shout from the rafters that every fan of horror should watch this film. However, I’m not naïve. I completely understand why many fans of the genre may not enjoy this film… and I’m not judging… I get it. Therefore, I do want to end my review with a warning. This movie is incredibly slow… maybe that’s the wrong word… let’s go with monotonous… no, deliberate… yes, deliberate that the perfect word. Do not expect a fast-paced ride here… quite the opposite… this movie is a slow burn. Also, there is a scene about two-thirds into the movie with a computer that had me shaking my head… it felt like the only lazy part of the movie. If you can forgive that and brew yourself a pot of coffee to drink while watching, it’s definitely worth it.