Honeymoon Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
DVD released by Arrow Films
Directed by Leigh Janiak
Written by Leigh Janiak and Phil Graziadei
2014, 87 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 19th January 2015
Rose Leslie as Bea
Harry Treadaway as Paul
Ben Huber as Will
Hanna Brown as Annie
An accurate depiction of that period between falling madly, deeply in love with someone and then, later, realising that they might not be quite as perfect as you once figured. The sex dries up, he starts leaving the toilet seat raised, unashamedly farts in front of you and... oh, she's turned all Invasion of the Bodysnatchers.
Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway play the loved-up young couple in question, taking off to an idyllic, remote cabin by the lake for their titular honeymoon. It's all fun, games and sex in every room for the first day or so (awkward baby talk notwithstanding) but when Bea takes a late night sleepwalk in the woods, things begin to take a turn for the worse. Poor husband Paul is left scared and confused as his wife begins to undergo some very ghastly changes before his very eyes. Suddenly flatulence beneath the bedsheets doesn't seem quite so bad at all, compared to what Paul and Bea are going through.
Up and coming hot properties Leslie and Treadaway do a remarkable job as the film's leads, sharing a beautiful chemistry which makes their inevitable unravelling as a couple feel all the more tragic. It's distracting to hear the two very British actors speak American accents (especially Leslie, who it is scientifically impossible to watch in anything without shouting “you know nothing Jon Snow” at the screen every five minutes) but they do just fine with it. It's essentially yet another cabin in the woods horror film in a genre now overstuffed with them, but Honeymoon is one of the few that gets it right. Concentrating on character over action and cheap scares, it slowly ingratiates itself as the horror elements come to play. What follows is like a less pretentious and mean Antichrist meets a more restrained David Cronenberg movie. It takes a while to get there, but the body horror aspects are genuinely troubling when they arrive, made even more so by the fact that we care about the characters and their plight.
Like the remarkable The Babadook, Leigh Janiak's Honeymoon was a resounding success when it appeared at last year's FrightFest, emerging with great word of mouth and a healthy number of positive reviews under its belt. For all the pounding hype surrounding the likes of Jessica Cameron and the sisters Soska, here we have a female directed horror film which stands on its own merits and speaks very much for itself. Be honest now – can we really say that of See No Evil 2 or the dumb torture film Truth or Dare? Beautiful, atmospheric, tense and even scary at times, it may wear its subtext on its sleeve (honeymoon period, geddit? People change and – shocker – your wife has periods) but, like The Babadook's ruminations on grief, it uses its themes to captivate emotionally as well as on a more blunt, shock-based level. If you've ever been caught in a relationship that's turned nasty and unpleasant over time, you'll feel for poor Paul's plight. Not one to watch following an argument with your significant other, or in lieu of couples' counselling, then.
One of 2014's best horror films becomes one of the following year's strongest DVD releases (I know it's only just begun, but this will take some beating). Honeymoon may have left me deeply saddened and a little queasy, but it's one of the best I've seen in years. Even after the honeymoon period has faded (obvious joke) we'll look back at this as one of the genre's strongest.