Take a Drink: every time the newlyweds do the dirty (or do something dirty. I know they’re young, but, you know, talking is good sometimes too).
Do a Shot: when you think a specially highlighted detail will matter, but then doesn’t (ducks?! Bear rug?! The moth on the light?!!)
Take a Drink: *to fight back your lunch* when the dialogue almost brings it back up.
Take a Drink: every time you’re pretty sure it’s aliens (it’s totally aliens!)
By: Zack Mandell (Two Beers) –
The nice thing about setting your expectations low is that you generally come out less than utterly disappointed. And while I had nothing against Leigh Janiak going into Honeymoon (and was in fact excited to discover that she was new to the scene, and female to boot), I’ve been scathed on one too many recent occasions by my first love – the horror genre – to let my guard down completely around a movie that’s a virtual Martian in the industry. I expected nothing less than to see Honeymoon exercise itself with cheap scares and thin plotlines like so many before it, so my mind was abducted completely when the film alienated itself from expectation and delivered a compelling story with the production quality of its franchised counterparts (done with the space puns I promise).
Before I continue let me just say that the movie never explicitly states alien involvement, I just felt like all signs pointed that way (bright lights in the windows at night, unexplained probes in body-holes).
A CliffsNotes version of the story would read like this: Boy meets girl. Boy marries girl. Boy and girl go on honeymoon in the woods after marriage. Girl starts acting strange and their bond is tested through a series of very horrific, very scarring events that all lead up to a grim and tragic ending for all those involved. So, it’s a movie about all marriages? Kidding. But while it actually is a pretty simple plotline when you look at it on a basic level, it’s all the extra little things that Honeymoon brings to the table that really allow it to stand out.
It’s a movie about a couple vacationing at a cabin in the woods, yes (The Strangers? Evil Dead?). But it’s also a story about mystery and the fear of the unknown; about growth and development through challenges no sane person is equipped to face. It’s an ultimate test to the limits of human emotional stability, and it delivers this test with just the right amount of blood and gory shock factor, and just enough drawn out suspense and mystery to keep you watching up until the climactic end. And while I spent a lot of my time watching the film yelling out, “Aliens! It’s aliens!”, I didn’t find the idea of another Body Snatchers-esque movie to be a bad thing; in fact I thought it was refreshing to see the concept done in a fairly unique way.
Janiak gives us an oddly bright setting for such a dark movie; perhaps to earn our trust and comfort just enough to then go and slowly tear it away when creepy things really start happening to main characters Bea and Paul. The serenity of the quite lake lends itself nicely to the sketchy back-woods behaviors the meager four characters (Bea and Paul, and two menacing neighbors) employ, which eventually reveal to be anything but simple low IQs and domestic disputes. And the generic cheap-scares and bass-heavy sound builds that end in a bust or a bang were virtually non-existent. Just good ol’ fashioned suspense and tension, like it should be.
It’s visual horror in that it satisfies the few basic details needed (blood; check. Body mutilation; check. Suddenly feeling self-conscious about whether or not I locked my front door; check *then checks door*), but the movie is heavily psychological. It’s equally as much about Paul’s emotional transition as it is Bea’s physical one – in fact the escalation of the two mirror almost perfectly to the end – which leaves you with that deeper reaction that a truly good psych-horror film gives (The Shining anyone?). You were pretty sure that everything was going to be fine in the end since Paul clearly helped Bea find her true self, so when you find out that’s not the case at all, you’re left questioning all of the other life decision you’ve been making recently. Oh, just me? Fine.
I actually found myself expecting Honeymoon to take the oft-used and damning “major-plot-twist-that’s-actually-really-predictable” turn that a lot of horror films take today, but it held itself strong and delivered up to the very end (at which point I was no less certain of aliens). In fact, the simple factor of the ending being left as a mystery should earn the movie an award in itself. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been let down by a cheese-core monster reveal at the end of an otherwise awesome horror film *cough* Europa Report *cough*.
“So much space out there…”
My only gripe about the film was that at times I found the dialogue and chemistry somewhat unconvincing. A lot of the time it was more like I was watching a couple’s third or fourth date interactions, rather than a soulmate’s exchanges. It’s not fair to expect two total strangers to come together and suddenly interact as if they’ve known each other for a while, I know; but there were times when I was taken out of the film by lines that felt forced or scripted, or interactions that just felt cold.
Was I ever really scared? No. So I guess personally I would classify Honeymoon as a suspenseful thriller rather than full-on horror, but I was left feeling *weird*, and I’d being lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous when my neighbors came home and their headlights lit up my window (aliens!).
Overall, I’d say it’s a two beer movie, and would recommend it to a friend who’s already one brew-deep after a long day, looking to unwind and feel a little creeped but not keep-you-up-at-night terrified.