Netflix Horror Spotlight brings you Wicked Horror‘s top picks for what to watch on Netflix, whether it’s the latest indie darling, a classic masterpiece or a silly slasher that deserves a little bit more attention. In this installment, Joey Keogh discusses the superb, innovative Brit shocker Honeymoon.
Horror has a tendency to rip apart the safest and most comfortable of comfort zones until we’re afraid to even step into the bathroom without first checking that there’s nothing lurking in the tub. And, as the title suggests, Honeymoon sets its sights on that most sacred, most romantic of vacation periods: the honeymoon.
Newlyweds Paul and Bea (Harry Treadaway and Rose Leslie, both Brits affecting somewhat convincing American accents) are spending their glorious, post-wedding days in her parents’ isolated cabin out in the woods, because, of course they are. At first, it’s a blissful escape, all sex and cooking and talking but following a late-night stumble in the forest, everything begins to unravel.The setup for Honeymoon is remarkably simple, but it’s in this simplicity that the true horror lies. When they’re first introduced, Paul and Bea are the picture of marital bliss–in fact, even after he’s found her wandering in the woods, her behavior doesn’t change too drastically. The difference in her is very under-played, which is incidentally what makes it so disarming.
As Paul, Treadaway straddles a difficult line between confused/concerned and downright frightened. Game of Thrones star Leslie does a fine job opposite him and, considering it’s just the two of them onscreen for much of the film’s running time, they are both remarkably adept at portraying a believable couple with a history.
Honeymoon was a sleeper hit on the festival circuit, and it’s easy to see why. In a lot of ways, it’s kind of an anti-horror movie, foregoing the usual, modern genre conventions (such as the ubiquitous jump scare, or a lengthy sequence of grisly torture) in favour of building the premise steadily through good old fashioned dread and tension.
The score is slightly intrusive at times, and there is one, particularly gruesome sequence of well-judged gore but this is otherwise a very slight affair, played entirely straight. With the action taking place almost exclusively in daylight, it’s also completely unpredictable and the ending, in particular, packs a serious gut punch.
Honeymoon is writer-director Leigh Janiak‘s debut feature, but it’s so assured, so innovative and original, it’s an almost unbelievable achievement. Considering the amount of sequels and so-called “reboots” to which we’re usually subjected this flick, in particular, should be held up as an example of what could be, if someone just tries to do something different.
Sadly, it’s becoming all too rare an occurrence that a horror movie truly impresses or pushes boundaries. Honeymoon does exactly that with a challenging, interesting narrative, a believable central relationship between two people we care about and a shocking, revelatory ending that’s as big a “fuck you” to modern horror conventions as everything that’s come before it. Catch it now or risk further disappointment.
Honeymoon is on Netflix now.