I’m not gonna lie. I went into the SXSW film, Honeymoon, with great expectations. I mean, think about it. A film that starts off on the romance genre track, before it switches into an intense, psychological horror film. An attempt to turn romance films on their empty head? Sign me up. Instead, what you’ll get is a strained effort that will leave you in a daze of head-scratching confusion. What helps is the talented actors.
Written and directed by Leigh Janiak, her directional debut focuses on Bea(Game of Throne’s Rose Leslie) and Paul(Harry Treadaway), young newlyweds who go to Bea’s family cabin for their honeymoon, where things soon take a sinister turn. The film starts with the couple’s arrival to the cabin, showing quick cuts from their happy wedding video in between. Once entering, Rose playfully attempts to give a tour of the cabin to Harry. Harry just want to have sex. After this, you’ll endure tons of cutesy dialogue and more sex, obviously a way of displaying the couples great chemistry. To be honest, the actors pull it off nicely. In the film’s first twenty minutes, you’ll be hot and hooked over these characters, as they continue their sensual dance, including a great scene when they take a boat out on the lake. The form of horror comes when they run into a man from Bea’s childhood past(Ben Huber)and his distraught wife(Hanna Brown). After this, Harry wakes up to find Bea sleepwalking naked in the pitch-black night, putting the film on a tense path. The next day, Bea, with bruises on her thighs, starts to behave even stranger, leaving Harry wondering if he’s on honeymoon with the same person he married. But when tension should be building, the film falls into repetition, leaving you feeling claustrophobic as you try to figure out the puzzle the film tries to set up. Treadaway’s performance is something to see, his eyes searching for signs of the woman he fell in love with. Leslie, who is a marvel on Game of Thrones, does better in the film’s earlier scenes, but still manages to cast a mystery as you try to figure out what has happened to her. But the film relies too much on sound and score to keep you horrified, when it could do better in silence. Leigh Janiak directs in quick cuts, leaving it hard for you to connect with what’s onscreen at times. The cinematography is astounding, but hard to enjoy with a soundtrack that won’t quit. And so it goes for eighty-seven minutes, leaving too many questions open by the film’s rather predictable, and disgusting end. It’s a credit to the film though, that while at first makes you want to have sex, and then leaves you not wanting to at all. Maybe that was the point. Either way, hopefully Janiak’s next film will make more sense.
Magnolia Pictures will release the film theatrically and on VOD on September 12, 2014.
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