Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones)
Harry Treadaway (Control)
Ben Huber (Shilo)
Hanna Brown (Hubcap)
The directorial debut of Leigh Janiak, Honeymoon stars Rose Leslie and Harry Treadway as Bea and Paul, two newlyweds who head to a remote lakeside cabin for their honeymoon. Once there – in a place that appears to be a significant part of Bea’s early life – things seem idyllic and perfect. That is, until Paul finds Bea naked and shivering in the woods one night, the supposed result of sleep-walking. From there, Bea’s personality begins to undergo subtle changes – mood swings, memory loss, strange wounds on her body – leading Paul to wonder who, or what, is living under his new wife’s skin..What we have here is not a typical, jump-at-the-noises scary film, set in a woods/cabin. Instead, we have a slow-burning film that takes its time to develop the main characters and all their inherent and human quirks and foibles. Most especially, it shows a very convincing portrait of two young people are in love and want to spend the rest of their lives together. This development is important – nay, essential – in order to make what follows as affecting as it possibly can be. To that end, it’s clear that the right actors need to be chosen and the casting have done a sterling job here. Leslie is engaging and down to earth here – though I had real difficulty at first, separating her from the role she plays on Game Of Thrones – charismatic and happy, without being overly sweet. Treadway is, unlike many young male actors, very appealing and completely sympathetic. They both seem very sincere in their roles, which is just as well, as pretty much the entire film rests on their shoulders.
As to that – it’s one of those films that’s difficult to describe without spoiling it, so I will try my best to be both vague and informative. First off, for a debut film, it’s astonishingly well directed. There is an assuredness and level of professionalism here that completely belies both the low budget and the fact that it’s Janiak’s fist film
There are a couple of places where it nearly loses it. The first is a scene early on showing Bea and Paul going fishing, a happy, life affirming scene – and the music is very schmaltzy, almost too much so; it sidles right up to that line but thankfully, never crosses it. The other is the final scenes where we nearly see the reveal of…well, the reveal of something. It just about holds it for me, and keeps the air of ambiguity, but it felt close and I think if they’d shown any more, it would have let the film down.
However, these are tiny points and Honeymoon has actually been one of the best films I’ve seen in while, certainly I was pleasingly surprised by a movie that looks, for all intents and purposes, like any other ‘creepy’ horror set in the woods, in a remote cabin. It’s not. It’s a very confident bit of film-making and continues to show – for me at least – that some of the best films are currently being made completely under the radar. Watch it yourself, you might just like it.