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Release Date: September 12, 2014 (Limited and VOD)
Director: Leigh Janiak
MPAA Rating: R

Leigh Jankiak’s directorial debut, Honeymoon, is an interesting blend of psychological and supernatural horror that provides both intrigue and some incredibly disturbing imagery.  As the film moves on, I found myself completely enthralled in what was happening to the main characters, and was continuously guessing what weird horror was about to spring next.

Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway star as Bea and Paul, the most annoying couple in the world heading to a family lake cabin for a honeymoon getaway.  After the first day, Paul notices Bea is acting slightly off, having memory issues and sleepwalking at night.  Things progressively become worse as Bea begins changing into someone or something entirely different.

Although this is a low budget indie and contained within the same lake house for most of the 87-minute runtime, the intrigue alone with keep viewers glued to the screen.  The old cabin location is the perfect horror flick locale.  It’s secluded, there’s no cell service, and it can be both beautiful and horrifying at the same time.  During the day, the calm lake looks serene and picturesque, while at night, the snarling trees and dilapidated cabin fit perfectly into this nightmare.

Visually, the film is on par with most indie flicks we see today and has a great overall style.  The violence and gore is sparse, but when it’s effectively used and features some great practical effects.  It’s a slow burn so there’s not wall-to-wall blood splatter, but a movie like this doesn’t call for that.  It plays out almost like a mystery, with Paul trying to figure out what’s happening to his wife.  To include more jump scares or violence would detract from the big finale and counteract the moody tone.

The only downside to the film is the actual relationship of Paul and Bea.  Although they are extremely over affectionate with one another, I never really felt like this was a couple who just got married.  They were entirely too sickly sweet with each other which got very annoying.  If I felt like this was a real couple I’d probably find it charming, but I just wasn’t on board.  Fortunately, the elevated levels of saccharine don’t last very long and are quickly forgotten by the second act.

For a debut, Honeymoon is an impressive and stylish thriller that delivers an atmospheric and at times shocking narrative.  Although the finale will leave some viewers with more questions than answers, I found it to be rewarding and exactly what a film like this called for.  It starts off sweet, then turns to sour, then slaps you in the face and kicks you when you’re down.  Solid horror films from female directors are a rarity, and I can’t wait to see what Leigh Janiak comes up with next.

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