6.5 out of 10

UK/USA co-production


Release Date: 26th September 2014

Director: Leigh Janiak

Cast: Rose Leslie, Harry Treadaway, Hanna Brown and Ben Huber

Writer: Leigh Janiak & Phil Graziadel


honeymoon640PTRead review below










One thought on “HONEYMOON

  1. HONEYMOON – review by Joe Pesci II aka Matthew Usher

    Honeymoons in films mean either (a) larks and farce usually in somewhere like Las Vegas or (b) hideous creepy possibly supernatural sci-fi shenanigans and death. HONEYMOON depicts a honeymoon of doom and should not be watched by anyone seeking romantic comedy.

    Our luckless pair of blissful honeymooners (Paul and Bea) are played by British exports Harry Treadaway (still unfairly known as Luke’s brother, and me saying so doesn’t help) and Rose Leslie who seems set on a TV career involving royalty and aristocracy. But here we find them cast as Americans. (According to the Britpic Authority who makes me watch these films as penance for I know not what crime, there’s sufficient British money in this film to warrant its inclusion here.) It’s quite nice that British actors are now not regarded as box office poison as they once were, but I digress. Whether Treadaway and Leslie convince as Americans, I shall let Americans decide, but for what it’s worth I was sufficiently convinced. So they head off to Canada for a honeymoon after (I think) a rather sudden marriage (at least as far as all their unseen friends and relatives are concerned).

    As the Law of Doomed Cinematic Honeymoons decrees, their destination is a characterful / creepy log cabin in the woods (an heirloom belonging to Bea’s family), isolated and eerie, cosy and warm, and full of stuffed animals and happy memories. Happy honeymoon activities (mostly fishing) ensue, but things take a strange turn when the enraptured pair seek sustenance at the local hostelry, only to find it (a) shut and (b) run by someone who may be Bea’s ex boyfriend and his wife / girlfriend, who both seem to be preoccupied by something decidedly disturbing which they don’t want to discuss. And then there are strange lights and things that go bump in the night, and creepy sleepwalking and Bea seems to be less Bea than she was and Paul’s paranoia only helps to widen the gulf that has suddenly and inexplicably opened up between them. And then there are memory lapses, and disturbing physical symptoms, and identity lapses and paranoia and mistrust. And we know something is seriously amiss when Bea appears to have forgotten how to make coffee and French toast. And it becomes increasingly difficult to tell who is more scared, and who should be more scared.

    The main fault with HONEYMOON (that’s if it is a fault) is the explanation for what’s going on. (Indeed the strangest thing about the film – apart from its alleged Britishness – is how straightforward it is) It’s pretty obvious, in fact it’s extremely obvious and you’ll almost certainly reject it the moment you think of it, and you may well find yourself wishing for a less hackneyed revelation. That something strange has happened to Bea is obvious. That it sends Paul doolally is inevitable. That they end up torturing each other is also inevitable. But I do wish that the film-makers could have found a way of either avoiding the revelation, or found a way of making it a lot more murkier and ambiguous than it was. However, that misses the point entirely. (Though I think it’s a fair criticism that the explanation renders some of the ambiguity in the narrative redundant.) The point of the film is to watch the relationship between Bea and Paul fall horribly apart in a spectacularly short time. I suppose it’s all meant to be a metaphor for the ultimate unknowability (new word) of other people, and the immense leaps of faith we take when admitting people into our lives. As such, the intrusion of ‘the truth’ might have been done in a more tantalising and less blatant fashion. Fortunately, there is much to compensate for this minor blemish.

    The film’s most obvious plusses are its actors. Somehow Harry Treadaway and Rose Leslie manage to convince as being insanely happy without being smugly hittable. You do actually hope that they’ll be OK at the end of all this. Leslie is particularly good at the happy acting and Treadaway is particularly good when doing staring-eyed paranoia. One of the film’s strengths is that it begins to become unclear which of the two is more disturbed (even when the audience is in a position to judge objectively there is something about the way Treadaway seems to be tipping over the edge that makes one question assumptions). One of the film’s weaknesses is that this doesn’t get explored further. But I think much of the good paranoia stuff is down to Treadaway and Leslie’s acting. Elsewhere there are a couple of nicely creepy supporting turns in tiny roles, but this is effectively a claustrophobic two-hander played with charm and terror.

    And there’s none of that hand-held found-footage nonsense. The film-makers have put a film together without any modish contrivances. It’s particularly successful in the way the story snowballs. It’s a matter of gradients, of small steps: the characters go from idyll, to bemusement, to puzzlement, to confusion, to mistrust, to conflict, and so on. In that respect it’s like the ancient Greek plays where fate (or Fate) comes along and arbitrarily puts something in motion which cannot then be stopped.

    HONEYMOON is pretty much everything that a decent low-budget film should be but usually isn’t. It’s simple, well made, and has lots of what you might call old-school values (in horror film terms): it’s excruciating, visceral, clammy, scary, without being over-fond of guts and goo (mostly) (Actually I could have done with less of the squirmy physical stuff toward the end as it bordered on being repulsive for the sake of it rather than because the story demanded it). Nevertheless, HONEYMOON really shouldn’t be any near as good as it is. Although it may be no masterpiece, it’s more than just an efficient calling-card for those involved. However, a warning: perhaps this is obvious, but I strenuously urge newly-weds to avoid this film at all costs, at least until they’ve gone off each other a bit.

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