Review: Honeydew (2021)

  • Director: Deverux Milburn
  • Writer: Devereux Milburn
  • Stars: Sawyer Spielberg, Malin Barr, Barbara Kingsley

Review

I literally spent hours trying to write about Honeydew. Upon seeing it, I recognized the horrific experience of its characters and thought to myself it wasn’t going to be hard to write about it. It’s a basic horror experience that reminds us of past films in the same subgenre, and it executes all its patterns with an admirable love for details. You feel like you are seeing a film made with passion.

However, days after, I’m still struggling to find some sense in the movie, one that can make me arrive at something definite about its plot. It’s not that the film doesn’t explain anything about its setting, it’s just that there’s little engagement with the final portrayal of it. Some films are stories told through the lens of someone who has a specific vision And some of them, are presentations of ideas, style, and talent, without doing much to develop a logic storyline.

Honeydew falls in the latter.

The film tells the story of a young couple on a road trip. He’s a struggling actor who can’t even nail his script rehearsals when he’s on his own. And she’s working on a paper about a strange fungus that has attached farms in a rural area. It’s quite clear they’re taking that trip because she needs to investigate.

When they set camp in an open field, a strange man tells them they’re trespassing on private property. They pack up and leave. However, their car breaks down and Sam and Rylie are forced to seek help in a strange, dirty house in the middle of nowhere. A religious farmer welcomes them inside.

Upon rejecting a meal, Sam and Rylie start noticing there’s something wrong with this home. The woman’s son is an obese grown man who’s addicted to cartoons, doesn’t utter a single word, and eats sugary lemon slices. Sam and Rylie are offered a warm meal again while they wait for help.

Their trip suddenly turns into a horrific night with many, many possibilities.

And this is when the film becomes something other than a plain horror film with your typical tropes and threats. Honeydew is a gathering of sensory details that are never put together to compose something we can acknowledge, and further feel afraid of. It’s a pretty introduction to a director who is talented enough to provide a heavy and relevant backdrop but falls short of telling the final story.

The film’s third act is rushed and doesn’t do much for a confirmation of the plot. Yes, that cameo is wonderful and yes, it does a lot to make us glimpse at Honeydew’s theme. But at the end, we’re just left with a bittersweet taste of something that went by too fast. Writing about films like that is a hard task; style is simply not enough to celebrate film (a little too personal view of mine).

Nevertheless, Honeydew gets under your skin. Easily. The film’s treatment of nourishment, food, and body functions, serves as a fantastic backstory I wish I knew more about. That dinner scene, when Sam and Rylie notice the strange operation of the family, is wonderful in itself. It’s frankly the scene I remember most about the film.

Devereux Milburn left the music video scene to make a horror film and ended up focusing too much on style. His feature debut is admirable, risky and effective. Honestly, I just want to see what he’s doing next.

Available on VOD/Digital/DVD April 13th

Federico Furzan | Twitter: @federicofurzan

You can read more from Federico at https://screentology.com/

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