Even though we are rounding down 2014, the antiquated notion that women don’t watch horror still persists. This is just plain silly for various reasons, but let’s go with the most obvious one; women make up 51% of the ticket sales for horror films. That’s right. It may only be one percent more, but is there another genre where the audience is so evenly spread? Doubt it. Despite our love of the genre, women are still in the minority when it comes to making horror films so when a movie like Honeymoon comes around I sit up and take special notice.
Written by Phil Graziadei and Leigh Janiak, Honeymoon is Janiak’s feature directorial debut and it’s a stunner. Starring Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones) and Harry Treadaway (Penny Dreadful) as Bea and Paul, these two newlyweds are going to spend their honeymoon at the idyllic cabin owned by Bea’s family. Bea grew up going to this cabin every summer and she is visibly excited to share it with her new husband. Of course, because this is a horror film, things don’t stay on the idyllic side of life.
Honeymoon opens up with Bea and Paul, both separately and together, speaking to the video camera at their wedding. Between the two of them, we learn about their first date, the proposal and we get to see how very in love these two are. Leslie and Treadaway have an incredible chemistry together and that’s what keeps these two from being so annoyingly in love that you want to punch them in the face. They definitely walk the line of being a wee bit saccharine at times, but these two are so believable together that it hardly matters. A slow burn and an intimate character study, Honeymoon indulges in it’s after wedding glow for a while before shaking things up and slowly chipping away at this blessed union.
From the moment Bea and Paul reach the cabin, it is obvious that there is something wrong with the wiring in the house and the two other people in this isolated area are decidedly suspicious. Yup. There are only two other people near our couple and one of them is Bea’s friend from back when she came to the cabin every summer, Will, and his wife, Annie, who doesn’t look well and immediately tells Bea and Paul that they should leave immediately. While this interaction rattles the two a bit, they return to wedded bliss only to have a strange light slowly stalk through the cabin while the two sleep. Intuition tells you that the faulty wiring and this light are one and the same and the two manage to cause Paul’s alarm to go off at the wrong time. As he gets ready to go fishing, he doesn’t notice that Bea has left the cabin. After a wonderfully dark and suspenseful walk in the woods, Paul finds Bea naked and in a strange state. Claiming to have been sleepwalking, nothing is the same after this moment.
Honeymoon uses so little to create so much atmosphere and emotion. The clever use of lights and a fantastically eerie score work in such wonderful tandem with our two outstanding leads that you slowly become just as agitated, worried and confused as Paul.
What happened to Bea out in the woods that night?
Why is she suddenly a little bit “off” and why does she have to write in her journal, “My name is Bea”? As Bea slowly becomes more and more confrontational, I did kind of expect her to say, “You know nothing Jon Snow”, but outside of that I was completely immersed in this world. As the mystery unfolds, the anxiety amps up and I found it impossible to not be 100% emotionally connected with Paul: for better or worse.
With the kind of intimate, little touches that only women seem to be able to bring to the horror genre, Honeymoon is a delectable piece of paranoia and terror. Relying on the story and the superb acting from Leslie and Treadaway, Honeymoon is a lean, mean, impeccable piece of horror suspense.
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