What makes the perfect marriage? Why do couples tend to behave differently after a few months of wedded bliss? That’s the questions posed by the organisation in writer/director Phillip G. Carroll Jr’s debut feature.
A young couple, Tom and Eve (played by Jim Schubin and Chloe Carroll), pretend to be married so they can enrol in an experiment that will reward them with $50,000. All they have to do is be locked away together in a swish house for a month and be observed and answer some questions along the way. Sounds easy? At first it is, until Tom starts behaving in ways Eve hasn’t noticed before.
The Honeymoon Phase could easily be an extended episode of Black Mirror but lacks the satirical bite as it descends into psychological and physical horror territory. We’re kept guessing at what’s going on for a while as Eve sees and hears things that Tom doesn’t. She begins to doubt which side he is on as she notices things are a bit ‘off’ with him. It’s acted splendidly, particularly by Chloe Carroll, whose descent into paranoia and sheer terror is faultless. The direction, by the actor’s husband Phillip, is taut and impressive, and his script is only let down slightly by a plot twist that raises the sci-fi element (which we won’t reveal here) a little too early. The climactic reveal would have been enough a payoff without heightening the reality at that point. That said, it’s a solidly entertaining film that highlights the darker side of relationships.