HONEYMOON [EIFF Review]

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Honeymoon Review

EIFF REVIEW: HONEYMOON / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: LEIGH JANIAK / SCREENPLAY: LEIGH JANIAK, PHIL GRAZIADEI / STARRING: ROSE LESLIE, HARRY TREADAWAY / RELEASE DATE: 26TH SEPTEMBER

Newlyweds Bea and Paul head off on their honeymoon to Bea’s family rural lakeside cottage; cut off from the world to give them peace and privacy. After Bea sleepwalks for the first time in her life and Paul finds her lost and unaware in the woods, she begins acting strangely. As her odd behaviour intensifies, Paul begins to wonder if it’s even her anymore.

So, to recap: a young couple in love, an isolated cabin in the woods, no way to communicate with the rest of the world. Yeah, this will end well. It all starts innocently enough: walking in the woods, fishing in the lake, cooking in the kitchen, humping in the bed; the mutual adoration of the couple and their devotion to each other is apparent. With almost the entire film a two-hander between its leads, it was important the intimacy of their relationship be quickly established, which Rose “Yoo knoh noothin’ Jon Snoh” Leslie and Harry Treadaway (Penny Dreadful’s Victor Frankenstein) manage with deft efficiency.

After Bea’s midnight woodland excursion and her character becoming just a bit… off… the mystery of what happened to her dominates the plot. Unfortunately, once everything is in place, the film fails to maintain its atmosphere of encroaching dread. Although Bea’s behaviour becomes increasingly and disturbingly erratic in subtle increments, with memory lapses, odd word choices and emotional outbursts, there is a lack of any other focal point. The overly-familiar proceedings mean that rather than trying to figure out what’s going on, you’ll quickly develop a small shortlist of possibilities (prompted by hints that aren’t as clever as they think they are), the only variable being which of them it will turn out to be. The film seems to take every opportunity for Leslie to be at least partially undressed and/or soaking wet, and while this in itself is far from being a bad thing, you can’t help forming the thought that perhaps her alabaster curves are focused upon to distract from the film’s lack of actual story.

There is a sequence of grotesque body-horror towards the end as the revelations build to the final reveal, but it’s more spiteful and sickening than shocking, and really the kind of thing you’d expect to find on the Internet’s wretched hive 4chan rather than something purporting to be entertainment.

Despite a promising start, Honeymoon eventually reveals itself to be one of that lacklustre breed of horror film that comes off as little more than a feature-length substandard episode of The X-Files (after seeing bright nocturnal shafts of light with no discernible source, it even silently threatens to include aliens). If it was presented with even a glimmer of postmodern irony it might have had more of an impact, possibly even been engaging, but it’s all presented utterly straight, as if the story and its developments have not been rehashed dozens of times for decades. That kind of generic storytelling simply isn’t acceptable any more.

Expected Rating: 6 out of 10

Actual Rating:



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