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Honeymoon: A Horror Movie That Puts Characters First

Honeymoon is a movie I had literally never heard of until Patrick Klepek recommended it as a part of his Shocktober 2014 writeup a few days ago. His actual recommendation over there was very vague, basically amounting to "this movie has a really terrible trailer, don't watch that, but check the movie out without really knowing anything about it." Any time someone says "go watch this movie without knowing anything about it," they get my attention, so I watched it. It didn't disappoint! I found it to be a really impressive low-budget horror movie, and most surprisingly, one which actually had characters in it, not archetypes.

I don't think it would be going too far to say that horror movies have something of a character problem. When there's a horror movie with truly standout characters, it can be amazing, and those characters will be latched on to for a long time to come (Ellen Ripley, Ash Williams, etc.), but because the genre sort of exists simply to kill characters off, we often get horror movies, even good ones, which don't so much write characters as they do fill archetypes. These are "characters" you're already familiar with, so you're not surprised when the cheerleader who went off to have sex in the woods gets slaughtered. The deconstruction of that was part of what made Cabin in the Woods such an amazing film back in 2012 (and, for the record, if you haven't seen Cabin in the Woods, go see Cabin in the Woods).


While none of the characters of Honeymoon are memorable in an Ellen Ripley sort of way, they're much more developed than a simple archetype, as well. This is partly due to the film taking a lot of time to show our two main characters (this is a movie in which you literally see four people over the course of the whole thing, by the way) and giving an impression of who they are, and partly due to two extremely strong performances from the two main actors, Rose Leslie (Ygritte from Game of Thrones!) and Harry Treadaway. This means that by the time some spooky stuff does start happening, I was more invested in it that I was in something like last year's Mama, a movie I liked a lot, except for the fact that the main characters felt like something of a blank slate. It's more of the slow-burn, tense, cringy type of horror movie as opposed to one which is going for the jump scares, which is a lot harder to pull off, but is actually effective here.

That said, without getting into specifics, if you're looking for an absolutely incredible story, Honeymoon might not be your best bet. I figured out more or less what was going on in the story by the half hour mark, and wasn't all that surprised by anything over the rest of the film. By that point, though, I was in it for the ride, and because the characters and acting were actually quite compelling, and the ultimate payoff at the end of the film wasn't bad or anything, just a touch predictable. I thought there was a specific bit of early foreshadowing that would have taken the movie in a much weirder direction than it actually goes in, but unfortunately it plays it pretty straight, seemingly leaving one plot thread unanswered to go for a more predictable ending. By the end of the movie it also leans a little too heavily on a certain horror trope, saying which one would be a spoiler, for my tastes.

I don't think Honeymoon is going to blow anyone's mind, but with impressive performances and legitimate scares, if you're looking for a solid 87 minutes of tension, Honeymoon is well worth checking out.

Also, seriously, yeah, don't watch the trailer, it shows most of the major plot beats and reveals.

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