Directed by Leigh Janiak
Starring Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway
A honeymoon is in many ways a transformation, the melding of two lives. For some it can mean the loss of individuality to gain to deeper sense of connection to another, for others it simply means a time of hope and promise. The honeymoon phase is a time of deep passion and optimism, our eyes are wide and the world is full of possibilities. Director/Writer Leigh Janiak with her film Honeymoon has taken this time of unlimited potential and driven a spike through its still beating heart.
The film follows Paul (Harry Treadaway) and Bea (Rose Leslie) as they honeymoon at a remote cabin next to a picturesque lake. Soon into the couples stay Paul discovers Bea in the woods, wandering and alone with no recollection of how she got there. After that night Bea starts to display peculiar behavior and it becomes increasingly clear that something terrible happened to her that night.
Paul Treadaway (Control) and Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones) give fantastic performances as our young couple. This is first film for director/writer Leigh Janiak and she already shows immense talent. Much like Jeremy Sauliner (Blue Ruin) and James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) she is part of a new generation of young film makers who are making deeply personal genre films that are breathing new life into independent cinema.
This is a small intimate story that focuses on two people. The characters are given time to breathe and we are emotionally invested when eveything goes south. We are never given an explanation for what's happening, it just is.
The best horror films never spend too much time on motivation. One of the main problems I have with modern horror films is just that, motivation. In the last ten years we have been given far too much motivation. We always seem to know why our killer kills. The Exorcist is considered by many to be one of the greatest/scariest films of all time and that's partly because we are never given a reason why Regan is possessed she just is. Why does the shark attack Amity? Why does Leatherface attack strangers? What made Hannibal Lecter eat people? None of these questions should be answered because it kills the suspense and destroys the random nature that makes them scary.
Janiak approaches horror/scifi in a way that would have been common 30 years ago but is sadly lacking in most modern genre films. Character first. The film doesn't have the Bond opening to set the stage for what we are about to see. We introduced to our leads through a wedding video. They tell the story of how they met and while the story is sweet the music is slightly off kilter. The music is our Bond opening. A subtle but effective story telling device that had me on board right away.
Is the film scary? Yes. I watched the film with my wife and on more than one occasion we jumped but more than that the film got under our skin. It's creepy and haunting without relying on jump scares. This is an intelligent horror film that will stick with you for several days.
Honeymoon is in theaters now and available on VOD through iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Redbox instant and YouTube