Honeymoon is a film that is best to go into cold. The less you know about it, the more likely you are to really enjoy it. So, I will keep this synopsis short and to the point. The film follows newlywed couple Bea and Paul as they visit Bea’s family cabin for their honeymoon. Shortly after their arrival, Bea turns up missing. Paul later finds her lost in the woods and brings her back to the cabin. Soon thereafter, Bea begins exhibiting strange and erratic behavior that only gets worse as their trip progress.
I was not really bowled over by the trailer for Honeymoon. I thought it looked fairly run-of-the-mill and predictable but when I got ahold of a screener for it, I decided I had nothing to lose and gave it a go. I was completely surprised by just how inventive this film is and how completely unsettling it gets as the runtime progresses.
I thought I had Honeymoon figured out about fifteen minutes into the picture but was completely mistaken. I was glad to see that Janiak and Graziadei didn’t go the obvious route or try for easy and predictable scares when crafting their screenplay. The film provides clues that will lead anyone that’s paying attention to what seems like an obvious conclusion and then it rips the rug out from under you.
Honeymoon is directed by first timer Leigh Janiak and co-written by Phil Graziadei and Janiak. The film marks the first feature script for both Graziadei and Janiak. It stars Rose Leslie of Game of Thrones and Harry Treadaway of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, both of whom are quite good in the film.
The film’s pacing is pretty perfect. It builds slowly but steadily and never wanes. The two leads are likable and their relationship is endearing. I was a bit put off by their overly precious exchanges at first but the audience soon learns that their love for one another is genuine and goes much deeper than the syrupy banter in which we initially see the the couple engaged. Their devotion to one another is powerful and even stands up against circumstances far beyond their control.
The film builds to an ending that is perfectly fitting. I was concerned that Janiak may go for a cookie cutter finale but was pleased to see that she didn’t take the easy way out or put together a final sequence that was not befitting to the rest of the film.
Honeymoon has left me curious to see more from Janiak. She makes the most of a limited budget and proves able to elicit strong performances from her capable leads. Since the film is extremely character driven it could have easily fallen apart in the hands of a less competent director or weaker performers.
My only real criticism of the film is that it holds very little replay value – at least in the near future. This is the kind of film one must allow a large berth between viewings. So much of what makes the picture work hinges on what the audience doesn’t know. And as such, repeat viewings are likely to be considerably less enjoyable than seeing the film for the first time. That’s not to say that all is lost, though, I can see reason to revisit the film several years down the road.
Honeymoon will hit select theaters and a variety of VOD platforms tomorrow (September 12th). This one is well worth looking into.
WICKED RATING: 7.5/10
Director(s): Leigh Janiak
Writer(s): Phil Graziadei, Leigh Janiak
Stars: Rose Leslie, Harry Treadaway
Studio/ Production Co: Fewlas Entertainment
Length: 87 Minutes