“Honeymoon” was probably the movie that I looked forward to the most at this years /slash Filmfestival. And while it might not have been able to fully live up to my high expectations, it still was a decent little horror flick. The first feature film of writer-director Leigh Janiak (another new, welcome female voice in the genre; I’ll hope we’ll see many more movies from her!), “Honeymoon” benefits from the fact that they cast both leads, Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway, right before their big breakthroughs. Just a couple of months later they probably wouldn’t have been able to afford them for this small indie feature. But they didn’t just get lucky because both of them have become stars since the shoot, but mainly because both give great performance. Rose Leslie in particular is great as Bea. Granted, it’s a little easier for her to shine because she has the more interesting role, and actually get’s to play a transformation of her character, but the way she does it is just great. Harry Treadaway is really good too, though, as the husband who desperately tries to hold on to his wife, who keeps changing in front of his eyes, getting further and further away from the woman that he fell in love with. The chemistry between them is really good, and they are absolutely convincing and believable as a newlywed couple.
I love how the movie plays with themes like the loss of identity, the change of personality, and the question if you can ever really know another person. It’s heartbreaking to see the two of them, who start out so happy, slowly starting to break apart. What’s especially poignant and tragic is that Leigh Janiak and her writing partner Phil Graziadei set this story right after their marriage – which is usually when couples, or at least married couples, are at their happiest. Here, however, the Honeymoon seems to also bring their love to a sad and tragic end. Leigh Janiak’s direction is great. She offers some really moody scenes, and manages to amp up the tension during the course of the movie. Especially given the seemingly tight budget, the movie looks quite impressive. I also really liked the makeup- and practical effects. What I also found quite impressive is that given the fact how often we’ve seen people going to a Cabin in the Woods, where shit happens to them, Leigh Janiak somehow managed to still make it feel new and fresh – possibly because with a setup like that, we usually get clichéd teenagers, instead of a very well and fully fleshed out married couple. Anyway, as unoriginal as the setting in a reclusive cabin might be, I think that in this case, it definitely worked in the movies favor.
If there’s one weakness to “Honeymoon”, it’s the resolution of what’s going on, which follows a very well-known, beaten path. Once my suspicions finally were confirmed, I couldn’t help but feel a little underwhelmed, if not flat-out disappointed. I simply expected something a little bit more original (and, quite frankly, more down to earth). I also think that it was a huge mistake that one rather early scene pretty much gave away the resolution. At first I thought that this had to be a red herring, because I wouldn’t have expected that they would lay their cards on the table so soon. Alas, they did. If they would have kept the mystery alive for a little longer, the resolution itself would still have been worn out, but at least the movie would have kept me guessing until then. The ending itself was great again; and also, because of the way the story unfolded, the great performances by both leads, as well as the fact that I was really rooting for them, my strong suspicion of where this is going didn’t make the movie dull in any way. But without it, it definitely would have been even more exciting and suspenseful.