Yes, it’s exactly as it sounds: beloved children’s storybook character becomes the star of his own horror movie. The FrightFest crowd is particularly excited about this UK premiere after almost a whole year of internet buzz, and a sizeable cohort of cast and crew are present at the Glasgow Film Theatre.
The film gets going with snappy exposition in an animated opener and we see how the classic tale has been twisted. In a surprising Life of Pi-influenced montage, Christopher Robin (Nikolai Leon) has grown up and abandoned his ‘animal’ (kept loose and vague) friends who have now turned on their own and evolved into angry, revenge-driven beasts. Sadly, this sequence is the artistic highlight of Blood and Honey.
Yes, we’ve read the synopsis. Yes, we know not to take this one too seriously. But there’s trouble ahead. There’s not much waiting around for the gore to begin. Christopher and his partner Mary (Paula Coiz) return to his childhood woods as adults and very quickly things go wildly awry. This opener turns out to be a prologue (…after the animated prologue) as we then pull back a little and slow down.
We’re introduced to a collection of new characters and the film, oddly, seems to adopt a serious tone, exploring protagonist Maria (played by Maria Taylor, one of the stronger performers) and her traumatic experiences with a stalker. Suddenly it feels we’re looking at a commentary on misogyny and violence against women. Alas, the film has no intentions of taking this much further. Fifteen minutes later, another female character has her top pointlessly and ridiculously ripped off before her head is smashed into a piece of machinery so intensely it is mashed to a pulp. Do we cheer? Laugh?
A key issue with Blood and Honey is that it hasn’t decided what it wants to be – pastiche, parody, straight-up slasher, trauma redemption – and so it’s a mush of all of them. One minute our empathy for Maria’s troubled and realistic backstory is being implored, the next we’re laughing hysterically at how stupid she is. Yes, there’s not supposed to be any deep questioning with a gore-fest like this… but why do Winnie and Piglet want to torture all these young women and not just Christopher? Why do these dummies waste inordinate amounts of time screaming and lolling around instead of running away? What the hell even are Winnie and Piglet? Humans? Animals? Demons?
This could well become a cult classic. It’s already, unbelievably, been commissioned for a sequel. But, much like The Human Centipede, the attention will likely be down to its mad premise alone, rather than the execution. Like Pooh with a jar of honey, it’s strangely alluring, but generally a mess and may well leave you feeling sick.
Screened as part of Glasgow FrightFest