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  • 15
  • Horror
  • 2014
  • 87 mins


Film4 Honeymoon


Two newlyweds (Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway) retreat to a remote cabin for their honeymoon where things take a turn after Paul discovers Bea sleepwalking in the woods.


Honeymoon ultimately isn’t a great horror film. Well, not on the surface at least. Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway play Bea and Paul, a young American couple enjoying their honeymoon in the simultaneously creepy and idyllic (aren’t they all?) cabin in the woods that Bea used to visit as a child. They’re loved-up, entirely smitten and extremely horny. Everything seems perfect for a while, but then after a mysterious light has been seen shining through the cabin’s windows, Bea goes missing in the dead of night. When Paul finds her sleepwalking in the woods she’s naked, confused and has strange contusions on her inner thighs - and over the next few days she starts slowly forgetting herself and acting like a completely different person.

“Where’s my wife?” Paul asks Bea in a moment of desperation. “You look like her, but you’re not her.” So what the hell has happened to her? Does it have something to do with Bea’s strange childhood friend they met the day before? Has she repressed an event from her past? Is she faking? Is Paul simply projecting onto her? Asking those questions turns out to be an ultimately fruitless exercise as the potentially intriguing horror elements – particularly some grim body-horror - fail to coalesce into a satisfying payoff. It’s a solid if familiar genre piece when taken on face value, but that’s not to say that Honeymoon isn’t an interesting film, far from it in fact, because writer-director Leigh Janiak’s debut feature is positively overflowing with fascinating subtext.

What has happened to Bea doesn’t matter, but how it affects their relationship does. Janiak is concerned with exploring how relationships break down and Honeymoon operates much better as an examination of married life than it ever does as a creepy horror flick. One morning Paul wakes up and feels like he doesn’t know his other half anymore. He feels frustrated, he feels trapped. Their sex life grinds to a halt. Bea finds her identity being chipped away by a relationship that is feeling increasingly like a performance. She still wants to love her husband but she can’t talk to him about what’s really going on and how she’s feeling. That’s the real horror of the piece – questioning how well you really know the person you’ve committed your life to. This is all subtext, of course, but it’s wonderfully conveyed in way that’s both subtle and hard to miss.

Dodgy American accents aside, Leslie and Treadaway are tremendous in the lead roles. In the opening sequences they verge on an annoying parody of a besotted young couple, but their heightened performances pay off when everything comes crashing down. As their relationship begins to strain there’s a litany of well-observed little touches that anyone who’s ever been in a serious relationship will recognise, giving their director a fantastic foundation from which to work. Janiak uses the trappings of the horror genre to further explore ambitious themes of how jealousy, infidelity, pregnancy and even domestic abuse can poison a relationship, ensuring that even as the plot flounders, Honeymoon sustains intrigue all the way through to its final encounter.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Harry Treadaway, Rose Leslie
  • Director: Leigh Janiak
  • Writer: Leigh Janiak, Phil Graziadei
  • Producer: Esme Howard, Patrick Baker
  • Photographer: Kyle Klutz
  • Composer: Heather McIntosh

In a nutshell

A decent addition to the cabin in the woods subgenre, but look a little closer and this has more in common with Blue Valentine than it does The Evil Dead.

by Joe Cunningham

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