Commitment can be a scary thing. It’s a moment when you relinquish an infinite number of possibilities for a single path. You can’t know where that path with take you. You can’t know if another path might have been better.
Honeymoon takes this fear and tries to make it tangible.
It almost succeeds.
Bea and Paul have just gotten married. We’re treated to quick clips of them inside a tent with Christmas lights in it (this is apparently a thing they had at their wedding) talking about their history together. It’s not a strong leg to start on, having your characters literally look into the camera and tell the audience they have a deep important history together, but it almost works if you’re not distracted by the slightly unnatural sound of two British actors putting on American accents.
They reach a cabin by the lake, and through the power of even more exposition we learn that, because this is the off-season and both of them are on T-Mobile, they’re basically cut off from the outside world.
The story really kicks into gear when they run into Will, an old friend of Bea’s. He and his strangely acting wife are the only other souls for miles around, and it turns out he and Bea had a thing for each other back in the day.
That night a strange light falls over Bea as she sleeps and she wanders off into the woods where Paul finds her. She claims she doesn’t know what happened, but she starts acting terribly unusual, and Paul begins to get suspicious.
What follows is exactly the kind of escalation you would expect with almost none of the payoff, and it’s here that Honeymoon really disappoints. The movie builds up a great sense of mystery and asks some really interesting questions, but that mystery is never solved, and the questions are never answered.
You could maybe forgive it if the film succeeded on a metaphorical level, but the “marriage is scary yo” message never gets much deeper than that.
What’s worse, Paul spends much of the movie believing Bea is cheating on him while we, the audience, are 90% certain it’s alien tube worms or something from the get-go. Watching a character figure out what the audience already knows can be a great tension-building tool, but here it just feels like the movie is spinning its wheels.
If all of this were leading somewhere maybe this stalling would be justified, but it isn’t.
For all of that Honeymoon isn’t a bad movie. Despite their slightly over-pronounced American accents, and shaky chemistry, Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway turn in serviceable performances as Bea and Paul. Likewise, even if the film is not quite beautiful, it is at least competently shot, and there’s one genuinely great moment of gross-out body horror.
Honeymoon is trying to be something great, but it doesn’t have all the pieces it needs in place. You can respect its intentions and see more than a glimmer of potential from director Leigh Janiak, but it never quite hits the mark.
Albert lives in Florida where the humidity has driven him halfway to madness, and his children have finished the job. He is the author of The Mulch Pile and A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw.
To hear more of our thoughts on Honeymoon check out Episode 183 of the Human Echoes Podcast.