A Honeymoon You Wouldn’t Want To Extend

Imagine this: the perfect start to marital bliss turns into an unforeseen nightmare. This is the disturbing reality in “Honeymoon” (2014), a film that brilliantly marries romantic joy with creeping dread. Director Leigh Janiak, in her feature debut, weaves a chilling narrative that begins with newlyweds Paul (Harry Treadaway) and Bea (Rose Leslie) traveling to a remote cabin in the woods to celebrate their nuptials. However, as the title implies, what should have been an idyllic retreat degenerates into something sinister. Janiak masterfully keeps the audience in the dark, feeding us pieces of an enigmatic puzzle in a place where intimacy becomes the ground zero of terror.

Unsettling Stillness Beneath the Surface

Janiak is adept at cultivating an atmosphere dense with unease. She shuns the overused horror trope of relying on jump scares, instead nurturing a slow-building tension that burgeons from the simple fear of the unknown. The dread emerges not from what we see but from what we sense is about to happen. In the mist-shrouded woods and the unsettling stillness of the lake, the backdrop is less about the terror it reveals and more about what it insinuates. Janiak’s use of prolonged silence followed by sudden, subtle noises — a creaking floorboard, a whispering wind — proves indispensable in crafting a compelling sense of horror.

A Dance of Shadows and Suspicions

The camera work in “Honeymoon” is intent on discomfort, often lingering just a beat too long on moments of intimacy or isolation, reminding the viewer that something is amiss. The limited color palette reinforces the loneliness and despair creeping into the lovers’ retreat, and the strategic use of lighting underscores the transformation from romantic getaway to a stage for horror. Not much is made in the way of special effects, and the film doesn’t need them, relying on its strong narrative and atmosphere instead.

The soundtrack and carefully chosen silences join the cinematography in an unnerving waltz. At times, the lack of music leaves the audience’s racing heart as the only score, and when we are granted a reprieve, it’s often a hauntingly melancholic tune that does more to deepen the disquiet than alleviate it.

The Humanity in Horror

Rose Leslie’s portrayal of Bea is the linchpin of the film’s alarming descent. Her evolution from blushing bride to something far more ominous is both chilling and evocative. Treadaway matches her step for step, embodying a husband who grapples between concern and horror at his wife’s transformation. Together, their chemistry serves as both the foundation of the terror and a compelling case study of how trust frays under pressure.

There is no denying that “Honeymoon” ticks the boxes of psychological horror, branching subtly into other realms that remain better unspoiled for prospective viewers. Without the reliance on excessive gore or jump scares, the film focuses on the uncanny, the idea that what’s familiar can at any moment turn foreign and frightening. It probes into the primal fear of losing someone you love to an inexorable force, making the characters’ desperation palpably human.

Underlying themes of trust, love, and the erosion of identity resonate throughout the film. Janiak’s script, co-written with Phil Graziadei, asks unnerving questions about intimacy and autonomy, forcing viewers to wonder what truly lies beneath the surface of their partners.

Conclusion: A Fresh Nightmare Unfolds

“Honeymoon” is a commendable addition to the horror genre, noteworthy for its commitment to the real essence of psychological terror. Janiak’s direction ensures the film is a creeping, unsettling experience that lingers long after its jarring conclusion. While it may not satisfy those craving gory, high-octane thrills, it stands as a paragon for viewers drawn to character-driven narratives that chill the mind more than the spine.

Fans of atmospheric, slow-burn horror akin to “The Babadook” or “Hereditary” will find much to admire here. Viewer discretion is advised for sensitive content and distressing themes, but for those who choose to dive in, “Honeymoon” offers a stark reminder of how quickly the familiar can become foreign, how quickly a dream can morph into a nightmare.

More thrilling reviews