By Craig Singleton (Wigan, England)
If you’ve just gotten married and you cannot afford to go on holiday, why go to a cabin somewhere in the sticks where no sod lives? It spells disaster that something’s going to go wrong there. Coming from first time director Leigh Janiak is this creepy yet romantic horror film that follows newlyweds Bea played by Rose Leslie and Paul played by Harry Treadaway.
The film starts with a lovely, soft piece of music that actually becomes a third character in the film and the newly married couple give a video diary of how Paul proposed and shows their excitement of being married to each other. The opening scene already makes it interesting as it has the tone of just a romantic film. The shots are well lit and depict how being married can feel as happy times are ahead now that they have officially committed themselves to each other.
The characters from the start display big personalities. Bea and Paul look like a very well suited couple as they are quite similar in their sometimes strange sense of humor. They are both kooky characters and randomly say and do things which is similar real-life in a way. It’s almost like a back and forth situation with them in terms of banter and affectionate displays.
As they’ve settle into their temporary home, something occurs unnoticed in their first night as a married couple that didn’t seem to be a coincidence and stuck with me for a bit. After meeting an old childhood friend who acts hostile to them in the beginning, a strange event that may not related happens. Paul awakes in the middle of the night to find that Bea isn’t in bed with him. He thinks she’s playing a prank but when she’s nowhere to be found, he begins to panic. He eventually finds her naked in forest appearing to be sleepwalking. After this event, Bea starts to act not quite herself.
The two characters are the only focus of this film and they are great to watch. Bea and Paul are likeable and well-acted, especially by Leslie who has to show more versatility in her role. It’s almost as if she’s a different person and Treadaway does well also as a concerned husband who loves his wife very much.
The best aspect for me of Honeymoon is the cinematography. It has a floating-like motion to it and the focus the camera has on the characters especially and the environment for which the film is set is very precise. A close second is the soundtrack as it transitions from loving to creepy very well which sticks in your head.
Focusing just on two characters in an entire film could get tedious, but I think the writing for the most part holds up with style. As far as horror goes, Honeymoon for me didn’t really scare me. I always think that a horror fails if it doesn’t scare me, however this film did have a certain impact on me. The quiet existence of a dark night in a secluded forest can be a scary thought alone and something I wouldn’t do, ever. Honeymoon doesn’t give the ‘shock and horror’ effect to entertain the viewer, it instead relies on the human emotion within the story and I preferred this compared to scare tactics that exist in films like the Paranormal Activity franchise.
My score for the film is 79%. Lowest mark for entertainment, highest for cinematography. It’s a great directorial debut on a very small budget and I believe should have a place in the top five horror films of this year. Rose Leslie I thought was a star to add and I hope can break out into mainstream films.