Remind me to scratch off “cabin in the middle of nowhere” for possible honeymoon destinations. Leigh Janiak’s new horror film Honeymoon is a disturbing tale of New York City newlyweds “Paul” (Harry Treadaway) and “Bea” (Rose Leslie) who are torn from married bliss to bloody chaos in a matter of days.
Retreating to an isolated cabin in the middle of the woods for a romantic getaway seemed like a good idea before a gooey mess of a creature decided to inhabit Bea’s body. What starts off as a sweet, romantic story of Paul and Bea and their love of pancakes, board games, and boating quickly turns into the honeymoon from Hell. Bea wakes up in the middle of the night and wanders into the forest, dazed and half-naked in her silk nightgown. When Paul finds her, however, she’s completely naked with bite marks on her inner thighs. He questions her again and again about the bite marks, the night she was “sleepwalking,” and her peculiar behavior. Why would Bea jump into cold lake water when she shrieked at its frigidness the day before? You wouldn’t think it’s the most insane thing a person has ever done, but it brings Paul’s suspicions to the forefront. Something’s wrong his wife; she’s forgetting how to make French toast and coffee, and even has to write down her own name to remember it. He knows something happened to her in the woods and he can’t quite figure it out. Bea acting weirdly and Paul staring at her like a stranger makes up 90% of the boring, bizarre Honeymoon.
Each night, a beaming spotlight shines through the cabin’s windows, seemingly the source of all the weirdness. Paul yearns to get his wife back, asking Bea questions to jog her memory and prove, somehow, that something has taken over her. It’s paralleled with Paul trying to get Bea to remember him physically, leading to one of the most graphic and cringe-worthy scenes in recent movie history. The sick-factor is much more impactful than the thriller aspects of Honeymoon as Bea bleeds, gushes, and oozes all over Paul’s hands. The overload of disturbing imagery might have made sense if the plot supported it, but there was a severe lack of clarity as to what was happening.
What did work, however, was the chemistry between Treadaway and Leslie and their portrayals of lovebirds, Paul and Bea. Leslie must come from the Nina Dobrev-school-of-acting, making Bea’s character shift from joyful to crazed seem effortless.
Other than that, the film was just strange. With little resolution or any real explanation as to what was happening, Honeymoon fails to get where it needs to be. If Janiak upped the ante of the plot or provided a little more thrill, it would have been a better tale to tell. Unfortunately, besides the acting and the ick-factor, everything else falls flat.
Review © Brigid K. Presecky (9/14/14)
Top Photo: Harry Treadaway as “Paul” and Rose Leslie as “Bea”
Bottom Photo: Rose Leslie as “Bea”
Q: Does Honeymoon pass the Bechdel Test?
No. Almost every scene is about the couple, except for one encounter Bea has with a woman seemingly possessed by the same demonic spirit.