Baddie – Marital trust.
Lesson – Marriage is inherently dangerous. Maybe.
Honeymoon accomplishes a rare thing and makes me immediately hate the couple in question. It might be because their love story starts with, “lol foreign food gives you food poisoning,” or because they have cinnamon rolls instead of cake at their wedding, or because Bea makes buzzing noises and pretends to be a bee, or because the husband appears to not be happy about anything ever. Maybe it’s the weird jokes that edge a little too close to the topics of domestic abuse and pedophilia. It could be the way that they appear to hate each other unless they’re having sex.
HOWEVER. Honeymoon is a sleeper movie. I’m glad I sat through the entire movie because it ended up being really a fantastic little nugget of a film. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the plot and the reliance on the audience being in the dark, this post is going to necessitate spoilers. Please proceed with caution. I don’t think knowing the ‘baddie’ will drastically influence how you view this film, but it might.
Honeymoon seems like a really great starter project for director Leigh Janiak. She’s done production work on a few other films that I like a lot visually, Europa Report and Mirror Mirror, and I think it’s safe to say that her aesthetics are well-developed and executed with Honeymoon. I had very minor issues with the plot itself, and really it was just another case of superfluous effect. But before I get ahead of myself –
Bea and Paul are newlyweds, and for their honeymoon they decide to vacation up in Bea’s family cabin on a lake somewhere in Canada. It appears to be early summer, as they are largely abandoned and the water is cold. It’s isolated, quiet, peaceful. They can finally enjoy the camping trip they were supposed to take. Naturally, at first everything is wonderful. They are in love, they are irritating to everyone but themselves. Then Bea sleepwalks, and when Paul finds her, she’s changed. Namely, she begins to take on attributes of dementia, or Alzheimer’s, and forgets routines, basic things, words, etc. Paul grows increasingly frustrated and confused, and the movie escalates slowly but steadily.
This by itself would have been a great movie – but in an attempt to add tension and give Paul a reason for escalation, another couple is introduced. Paul grows jealous, as Will is a childhood friend of Bea’s, and he jumps immediately to blame her weird behavior on her cheating despite the suspicious insect bites on the inside of her legs. For me, it was distracting and not in a particularly great way. I love simple horror with small casts, and Bea and Paul’s dynamic change from ‘super duper in love’ to ‘what is happening to my wife’ was totally enough to be disconcerting and scary.
Rose Leslie (who you may recognize as Ygritte from Game of Thrones) is fantastic, particularly towards the end. She did the best she could to make the switch from happy-go-lucky hipster wife to creepy and out of control, and overall it was really well done. Harry Treadaway does an equally nice job as the confused and perturbed Paul. Again, his strongest performance is right at the very end of the film. I will re-iterate that they appeared to be an unhappy couple despite having fantastic physical chemistry, but I also think this may have been conscious to let the audience believe that Bea may have actually cheated.
A few red herrings made this effective horror, but like I said, it’s a sleeper film. There is nothing ‘scary’ about it. There’s only one jump scare. The rest is all in your head, so depending on how much suspense you’re susceptible to, it’s not really a horror film. It’s definitely weird, it’s definitely visceral, and my skin crawled at least twice. Part of that, I believe, is because Janiak was able to touch on something that is deeply disconcerting for female-bodied persons, and as I once spoke about with Cabin Fever, that can have a very very very strong, innate fear response.
This is the movie to turn me around on abduction/alien movies. I thought it was really well done and I would watch way more if they were all like this. It called back to pod people and clones and the Twilight Zone in the best ways possible.