Leigh Janiak’s directorial debut, Honeymoon, is a striking and genuinely frightening film. I have been hearing a lot of good news about this film leading up to release. I counted down the days and watched it yesterday as it premiered on demand. This film certainly lives up to the hype. On the surface there is exceptional acting, thrilling tension, and scary moments. Underneath, we have a spine-chilling and elusive psychological thriller that keeps the audience guessing minute by minute.
The plot follows a young and enthusiastic newlywed couple spending their honeymoon at a cabin away from the city. Of course there is no phone reception and no internet. The beautiful scenery is shot exceptionally well for a low budget film. Paul and Bea are doing what newlywed couples do best on their honeymoon- exploring the surrounding area and having lots of sex. This isn’t gratuitous though and keeps the sex scenes innocent and at bay. I immediately liked these characters which is a good thing because they are the only two in the entire film except for a few short scenes with two other people. Expressing their love for one another in lovey-dovey affection may seem a little over the top at first, but it juxtaposes nicely with Bea’s extreme behavioral changes later on in the film.
There are some deliciously wonderful lines of foreshadowing throughout the beginning of the film. The lines I picked up on were:
“The ducks? Their fake. Hollow and empty.”
“Rest your womb.”
“Have you ever killed anything?”
“I’m not afraid of the lake.”
Even before I knew what these lines meant, I had a sneaking suspicion that these lines would come back to haunt our characters. And that they do with a vengeance.
This lovely and leisurely honeymoon takes a dark turn when Bea disappears in the middle of the night. Paul finds her in the dark and secluded woods, naked and disheveled. Weirdly enough, Bea is unusually calm and serene and convinces Paul that she must have been sleepwalking. But the next morning Bea seems distracted, tired, and forgetful. She isn’t laughing at Paul’s stupid jokes anymore and isn’t affectionate. Actually, she is so different she seems like a completely different person. What happened to Bea out there in the woods?
As Paul catches Bea in, what he believes to be, lie after lie, he becomes increasingly upset and paranoid. Some good guesses can be made at this point as to who or what is the culprit. But the actors keep you guessing as the strain and tension mounts. I caught myself holding my breath a couple times with the unraveling of these characters. That anxiety and fear of “Who is this stranger in front of me?” and questioning who you have married reaches an unsettling precipice. The ending leaves you with a lot of questions still begging to be answered. A lot of people may hate this fact but I don’t mind as it fits with the mysterious aura of the film. The grueling tension is so daring that it makes the entire film very gratifying and creates some truly terrifying moments. Honeymoon will definitely go down as one of the best horror movies of 2014.
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