Newlyweds Bea (Rose Leslie) and Paul (Harry Treadaway) head to a cabin in the woods for their honeymoon. One night Bea disappears, only for Paul to find her in the woods, naked and disorientated. Unable to remember what has happened, Bea starts to act strangely, despite her protestations that everything is fine.
Taking the old cabin in the woods horror cliché is not always the best place to start your film, because let’s be honest, we’ve seen most of it before, but Honeymoon manages to be something that remains interesting and a little bit different within this vast horror cliché. It helps that director and co-writer Leigh Janiak has brought together a couple of different genres in this movie, meaning that we aren’t just lumped with a couple being terrorised in a lonely cabin. Whether these genres work together is really more down to the viewer than the film’s ability to sell them. The ending may push people away as the reveal verges into another genre but the introduction of some body horror elements towards the end works well, as does the relationship drama throughout.
Honeymoon is in essence a mystery. Though certainly open to horror influence, it is not particularly scary but it does manage to create a good mystery that will keep you guessing while it effectively drips feeds you information through the course of its running time. The film manages to keep its hand a secret until pretty much the end, leaving you wondering what the strange marks are that have appeared on Bea’s thighs, what those bright lights are and what is going on with the neighbours. It is this that aspect that really keeps you interested and watching to the end.
Leslie and Treadaway are good, shouldering all the dramatic weight of the story. Almost the entirety of the running time is spent with them, only briefly adding two more characters to create more mystery and dabble with their relationship, so it is a good job that both of their characters are well drawn, played and, for the most part, likeable. They are a convincing couple and the relationship drama makes the film a lot more interesting. Honeymoon plays on the idea of not really knowing someone and how people can change after marriage. There is the feeling that Bea and Paul have married quite quickly so it is all the more convincing when cracks begin to show so quickly. The couple start off having so much sex that they must surely encounter some chaffing, but after running into a local, Will (Ben Huber) who may have been an old flame of Bea’s, and after Bea’s trip in to the woods, she becomes a lot more reserved and Paul’s suspicions start to creep in, jealousy and mistrust raising their ugly heads. Playing on these marital troubles and fears means that the film keeps up a dramatic weight and an interesting character dynamic while it feeds in the effective outside mystery.
Leigh Janiak has crafted a solid debut feature with a strong lead relationship that is well played by Leslie and Treadaway. You may not be particularly scared but you will want to watch the mystery unravel.