What I'm Watching: Honeymoon
One of the best things about horror, science fiction, and fantasy, is that it has this ability to deal with real world issues in ways that regular, more grounded in reality movies can't. There's a long history of greater freedom to explore issues, or just come at them from a different angle, or as is the case with "Honeymoon", to use common fears in uncommon ways.
And when genre projects can do such things, they are always at their best.
We've all experienced meeting someone, falling in love with them, and then as you get to know them, they turn out to NOT be who you thought they were, and things fall apart.
Now add creatures, and you have Honeymoon.
At it's core, Honeymoon is a simple movie, and it uses that simplicity to great effect. There is almost no more than two characters in this entire movie. Two other characters come in, very briefly, at the start and middle of the movie, but otherwise, this movie lives or dies solely on the performances of its stars, Rose Leslie, and Harry Treadaway.
Oh, there's also shadowy figures, but they are literally nothing more than that, so that doesn't really count.
The movie revels in its small scale and intimacy, starting immediately by having the main characters addressing the audience directly, through videos they made during their wedding, about how they met.
It's a great device to inform you of the characters, and makes you feel immediately like you know them, and are friends with them, being let in on this private moment. The focus shifts away from that sort of thing as Paul and Bea head into the woods to her old family cabin, for their honeymoon.
It doesn't take long before things Go Horribly Wrong, and Paul finds his wife in the woods late one night, naked and injured, and confused.
The majority of the rest of the movie concerns Bea's slow descent into madness and confusion, and Rose Leslie is simply amazing at it. Things start out small, like using just the wrong word here and there, and not even noticing. Things become more obvious as she can't seem to make food right, and then she starts forgetting bigger things.
And while you're feeling for her own struggle, you are also totally feeling for Paul, losing his wife bit by bit, confused by what's going on, and fearing everything from some form of madness, to an affair or an attack, and everything in between. I think the key to even feeling for him in all this, is that understanding and empathy for his plight, and at the same time, they never make him be violent towards her. He wants answers, you know he could *easily* strike out in some way, but Paul NEVER does, and that's crucial. He truly loves this woman and is just as afraid, in his own ways.
The other characters in the movie, are another couple going through the same thing, at an advanced stage when we meet them, and the guy is clearly more violent about it than Paul ever is. Again, it's understandable, but it's a fine line that if the movie crossed it with Paul, even accidentally, the audience would be lost.
And as is so common, I think the movie fails with the ending, and that's compounded by the explanation for what's going on. Or, in this case, the lack thereof.
We never really find out what the shadowy figures are, why they're taking people, what is happening to the people, and why they're becoming forgetful.
There's plenty of theories, and the movie is clearly a more intimate version of an Invasion of the Body Snatchers type story, but the movie really gives you *nothing* about the whys of all this. I don't need ALL the answers, but something would have been nice.
Are these creatures an alien invasion? Are they taking over people to get them out of the way? Are they replacing them? Clearly not, since it's still the original bodies, just possessed somehow. And that's fine, but the process also creates DRASTIC physical changes in the very end, which kinda defeats the infiltration idea, yes?
I like the idea that these creatures have trouble existing in our environment (A la War of the Worlds) or are far from any sort of human physiology. They only form we do see is SPOILERS! a worm, and maybe the shadowy figures aren't the actual invaders, but more possessed humans. So possessing a human form to better interact with this world is a fine idea. And that, and/or the idea they need a human host to deal with our environment is a perfectly fine thing to do as well, and then covertness be damned, I guess.
But I just don't know. And that certainly doesn't ruin the movie, and leaves open the room for discussions, which I honestly love too, but I just feel so unsatisfied by not knowing much of anything.
Still, even with a bit of a fizzle, the rest of the movie is great, with some top notch performances by Leslie and Treadaway, with very believable chemistry and acting skill. The atmosphere is so engrossing and creepy in small ways rather than large ones, that even though the movie may leave you frustrated, it is absolutely worth watching for the journey alone The build up alone makes that part of it one of my favourite movies of recent months, they just didn't bring it home for me.
Your mileage may vary, so absolutely check it out.
And it's still better than Clown Hunt.
(Bet you thought I'd forgotten all about that running gag, huh??)