Editor’s Notes: Honeymoon opens in limited release this Friday, September 12th.
The trailer for Honeymoon establishes the dramatic conceit that a happy newlywed couple goes on their honeymoon, where mysterious events begin to unravel their sense of reality. The trailer’s notable image is when the husband finds his wife eerily pale, naked and motionless in the woods in the middle of the night. The problem with such horror conceits is that the couples are so often unbelievable. It’s difficult to be truly horrified by an idea like one’s spouse suddenly lost control of themselves in a potentially supernatural way, when the audience can’t buy the reality of the marriage. Unlike most horror films, Honeymoon establishes a romantically beautiful and completely believable marriage.
Unlike most horror films, Honeymoon establishes a romantically beautiful and completely believable marriage.
Director Leigh Janiak is able to convey this notion from the get-go because she’s adeptly capable at conveying intimacy on screen, in a way very similar to Marc Webb’s (500) Days of Summer. Something about the combination of the camera placement, lighting and acting provides the sense of touch, warmth and closeness of being in love with someone. In Honeymoon, Janiak conveys this partly through the faded, dreamy cinematography Kyle Klutz, which if taken out of context could be mistaken for a romantic vision of Martha Marcy May Marlene. Equally as important to conveying intimacy, are the brilliant evocations of young love by actors Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones) and Harry Treadaway (Control). The whole enterprise was quite lovely and engrossing, until finally that image from the trailer came back and the horror began.
The problem may also be the acting from Leslie and Treadaway, whose foray into portraying the supernatural simply falls flat.
Quite disappointingly, the film deflates. Honeymoon intends to draw the audience in with intrigue about Bea’s physical and mental issues, but her bizarre behavior is never more than mildly interesting when it needs to be fascinating. The film’s entrancing quality is partly broken by Paul’s (Treadaway) perturbedly toned down reactions to Bea’s behavior. The film also needs its audience to feel tension about what strange, potentially violent events will unfold. However, it’s mostly boring. The problem may be the screenplay by first-time screenwriters Leigh Janiak and Phil Graziadei, as Paul and Bea’s actions and the and the inexplicable isolation Paul and Bea enshroud themselves in would probably have been broken far earlier in reality (call a doctor, seriously). The problem may also be the acting from Leslie and Treadaway, whose foray into portraying the supernatural simply falls flat. Regardless this film is a major disappointment given its early promise.
Even still, Honeymoon has its moments. There’s one particularly memorable scene in which Paul and Bea get “intimate.” Paul puts his bands below her waist, she moans and says “Don’t stop.” While this sounds erotic, what one may imagine is quite different than what is actually happening on screen. It’s quite unfortunate that the rest of Honeymoon doesn’t have as much humor or eeriness. The overall aesthetic is, again, quite beautiful in its own right. These qualities make Janiak and Klutz worth keeping an eye on, as with better writing, the next film might be something remarkable. It sounds crazy to say, but maybe they should try a romantic drama next time.
Honeymoon intends to draw the audience in with intrigue about Bea’s physical and mental issues, but her bizarre behavior is never more than mildly interesting when it needs to be fascinating.