Honeymoon (2014) Dir. Leigh Janiak
Honeymoon initially caught my attention because I had recently read that its director, Leigh Janiak, was selected to create a reboot of 1996’s The Craft. A woman helming a female-centric supernatural-horror title from the 90s makes sense. I wasn’t necessarily a fan of it, but I have fond memories watching it with friends. After watching Honeymoon, I am looking forward to a darker take on the material. This movie was yet another personal recommendation from a friend, someone whose opinions on horror film that I trust. This title did not disappoint.
Honeymoon is pretty much exactly what you would expect the setting to be, a honeymoon for a young couple, Bea and Paul. It begins normally enough, playful and fun. I was even, “Oh no. Found footage…” Though I was wrong, and I’m glad that it went into a traditional narrative mode. As I said, it started fun, even showing us video footage of the wedding video where one key phrase is uttered, and plays an important role later. But as these movies always turn, shit gets weird when the outsiders go looking for something in town. Right away they are greeted with acrimony from the owner of a local diner, who happens to be childhood friends with the new bride. He is aggressive towards them at first, until the owner recognizes Bea and the two awkwardly try to catch up. When the owner’s wife walks in, she starts to give off a chill and order the owner to get back to work. The new couple go back to their cottage and as nighttime settles in, things get fun.
In the middle of the night, Bea goes missing. She just gets up out of bed and disappears. This kickstarts a progression of unsettling exchanges between the two, once close and affectionate couple. She is eventually found in the woods by her anxious husband, only to continue questioning her and push her to answer why she left. She pushes him away and tells him that it was a nightmare and she sleepwalked. Over the course of the next few days, she becomes more erratic and distant from Paul, and he is desperate to find out what is wrong with his wife.
This movie was so fun because it not only has some really odd and unsettling moments, but it plays on the fears of sci-fi-horror greats like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Invaders from Mars. These two specifically deal with paranoia based in identity and concerns with identity. We’re not sure if anything is actually wrong with Bea, I mean, it could be Paul who is the problem. The assumption is that Bea is the problem, probably because we’re used to blaming erratic behavior from a female as her biological imperative. This movie plays with the expectations and tropes of paranoia thrillers, quite nicely, in my opinion. And the little clues throughout pay off and don’t feel forced when a reveal is made. For some, it may be too gross to watch, and for others it might be exactly what was expected. I recommend this flick because it has fun as an examination of marriage and all that it entails, as well as general human nature, specifically the nature of trust.