Honeymoon (film review by Frank Ochieng).

The eerie element of the unknown in the scenic Canadian backwoods and the gradual introduction to marital madness all add up fittingly in writer-director Leigh Janiak’s chilly horror/psychological supernatural romancer ‘Honeymoon’. Janiak’s first directorial debut in this frightfest feature ode to young love descending into lunacy is actually both methodical and compelling. ‘Honeymoon’ cleverly plays with the concept of isolated paranoia among the unassuming lakeside wooded paradise. It is a cryptic character study of a fresh rollicking relationship turned rancid and menacing.


Whereas the typical young-folks-in-peril formula stagnates due to conventional familiarity and over-the-top cliched camp ‘Honeymoon’ is refreshingly literate in its presentation of a cherished romancing union gone completely haywire. Creatively bizarre, transfixing and reasonably paced, Janiak’s low-budget kissy-poo creeper is stark and imaginative with the right pulse for the wayward moodiness in thrills and chills. ‘Honeymoon’ is well-acted and hauntingly infectious given its commonplace knee-jerk suspense in the expected results of a shadowy gloom-and-doom genre.

Newlyweds Bea and Paul (Rose Leslie and Harry Treadway) are off to spent their treasured honeymoon at the cosy family cottage saddled in the seemingly tranquil town surrounded by breathtaking nature. It is clear that the young twenty-something married couple are invigorated by each other’s company where they revel in the quietness. Both are thoroughly content in their desolate utopia. They gleefully make breakfast together. They row on the glistening cold blue lake. They take lengthy intimate showers together. They partake in provocative lovemaking. Things could not be better for the natural high of love and laughter that Bea and Paul experience in their moments of pleasure and passion.

Soon, the so-called honeymoon phase will gradually become interrupted when Bea starts to demonstrate a peculiar side to her actions and personality as Paul wonders away with curiosity and concern. A chance meeting that Bea has with a familiar face she initially does not recognise in jittery Will (Ben Huber) at the local restaurant  seems to have ignited what would be a string of behavioural changes for Paul’s wife. In fact, Will has an erratic reaction towards his woman Annie (Hanna Brown) in front of Bea and Paul. This does not sit well Paul as he notices the uncomfortable twitching that Will shows towards both Bea and now Annie.

The red flag starts waving on Bea’s character transformation when Paul decides to do some late night roaming in the woods trying to locate where his spouse has disappeared from their place. Shockingly, Bea is discovered deep in the woods without any clothes on her body. Was Bea sleepwalking or something? Why is she buck naked in the darkness and not recalling why or how she got to this destination in her birthday suit? Of course, matters get worse when Bea continues to act strange and give cause for Paul to question her oddities. All of the sudden, Bea is forgetful about the little things that she enjoyed with Paul. The sexual touching is now something that she shies away from on the spot. Also, Paul discovers questionable marks on Bea’s body and she increasingly becomes defensive and defiant. Creepily, Bea starts bleeding in her crotch area and sports a rotten demeanor to match what appears to be a self-destructive meltdown. The reality finally hits Paul: the Bea that he married has inexplicably dissolved into madness. She is a creature caught up in the kind of startling bewilderment that would drag both her and Paul into a horrific hysteria that threatens what was an ideally fresh and favorable marriage.

"Is it still too late for us to audition for a spot on television's "The Newlywed Game"?
“Is it still too late for us to audition for a spot on television’s “The Newlywed Game”?

Overall, ‘Honeymoon’ is indeed a titillating treat to behold. Janiak marvelously delivers the fear of all fears. Investing romantically in a trusting individual that you really do not know…or at least you thought you knew if your life depended on it. This is a crafty and sinister psychological thriller that follows a simple by-the-dots build-up into solemn wackiness. The hypnotic performances as registered by Leslie’s and Treadway’s possessed Bea and beleaguered Paul are convincingly spellbound as they compliment this slow-burn scathing saga with freaky relish. ‘Honeymoo’n is edgy and atmospheric and perceptively smart in its low-key, hair-raising commentary on marital isolation and alienation. After all, there is nothing more beneficial than to ensure a healthy scare to consummate a start-up marriage, right?

Honeymoon (2014)
Magnet Releasing
1 hr. 27 mins.
Starring: Rose Leslie, Harry Treadway, Ben Huber and Hanna Brown
Directed by: Leigh Janiak
MPAA Rating: R
Genre: Horror/Supernatural/Romance/Psychological Drama
Critic’s Rating: *** stars (out of 4 stars)

(c) Frank Ochieng 2014


Frank Ochieng has contributed film reviews to SF Crowsnest off and on since 2003. He has been published in other various movie site venues throughout the years. Ochieng has been part of The Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and had written film reviews for The Boston Banner newspaper (USA) and frequently is a media/entertainment panelist on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 AM on "The Jordan Rich Show" in Boston, Massachusetts/USA.

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