Honeymoon, the directing debut for Leigh Janiak, breaks the rules and it breaks them in exactly the right way.
The trailer and the first act make it look like you’re about to see another “bloody teenager” movie. There’s the young, charming, horny couple. There’s a cabin in the woods. There’s even a crystal clear lake. But, director/writer Janiak and co-writer Phil Graziadei do what you are supposed to with a perfect genre set-up. They spin it in an unexpected direction.
Don’t get me wrong. There is blood and sex, enough to get this film an R-rating. But, for the most part, it is not gratuitous; it actually moves the plot along.
The writers also break the rules when it comes to classic storytelling. You won’t get the ending you’re expecting. Rod Serling would have liked it.
What is even more remarkable is that during this film’s creepy 87 minutes, we encounter only four actors and two of them, Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey ) as Bea and Harry Treadaway (Penny Dreadful, Fleming) as Paul, are the only actors for 90 percent of the film. The other two actors, Ben Huber and Hanna Brown, do, even with their abbreviated appearances, add mystery and goosebumps.
The performances by Leslie and Treadaway lift this film from what could have been boring confusion to riveting, painful engagement. They play newlyweds headed for a honeymoon. Much of the beginning of the film is spent getting to know them and their relationship. As I watched, I began to think that this romantic interlude was going on a little long, but it pays off later in the film. Besides, they are funny, sensitive and sexy, so you won’t mind. You will like and care about their characters.
In a statement issued by Magnet Films, director Janiak explained her goal: “I wanted to tell an intimate, grounded genre story. I was inspired by Polanski’s paranoid thrillers where the horror gnaws from within. Paul and Bea share an intimacy that only couples can. They know each other’s minds. They know each other’s bodies. Their emotional endurance is tested as the narrative explores how far love can be pushed when it’s tortured and under attack.”
I believe she did Polanski proud, as I was left with the same kind of uneasy feeling I experienced the first time I saw Repulsion.
Honeymoon opened in select theaters this week and is available on iTunes, Amazon and VOD. See it in a theater if you can – late at night.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=0345535529,B00KHWSD1O,B008G33O0G,B005HI4LMS]