A pair of young newlyweds, Paul (Harry Treadaway, Brothers Of The Head) and Bea (Rose Leslie, Game Of Thrones) travel to Bea’s family’s remote lakeside holiday cabin in the woods for their honeymoon. They meet an old flame of Bea’s, a teen holiday romance, at the local diner – Will (Ben Huber) along with his pale, confused wife Annie (Hanna Brown).

Paul is immediately suspicious of Bea and Will’s relationship and Will’s aggressive behavior towards Annie who warns them to leave. Their idyllic romantic getaway takes a truly sinister turn however when Paul finds Rose wandering naked and confused in the woods one night. In the days that follow, strange marks, scratches, appear on her body. She becomes increasingly forgetful. When she believes she’s unobserved, Bea practices excuses not to have sex with Paul, recites facts about their lives to herself as if learning by rote, obsessively watches their wedding video. Bea seems to be changing before his eyes, becoming someone he barely recognizes. And then things start to get really strange…

Atmospheric, creepy and suffused with an escalating sense of unease, horror is rarely as intimate as Honeymoon, writer/director Leigh Janiak delivering a tense, slow-burner that questions the fragility of identity and asks exactly how well we know, and how much we can trust, the ones we love that recalls Zulawski’s brilliant Possession as much as it does Invasion Of The Body Snatchers or Whitley Strieber’s Communion.

Paul and Bea to quote Johnny Cash “got married in a fever,” meeting and marrying before they’ve ever really got to know each other, they’re essentially intimate strangers discovering themselves and what it means to be a couple. It’s little wonder then that the increasingly paranoid and insecure Paul jumps so quickly from believing his wife is possibly having an affair with an old flame to believing his wife may not be his wife at all; he already suspects she’s lying to him, begins spying on her, walking in on her as she practices excuses in the mirror his suspicions are confirmed. He really doesn’t know the woman he loves.

Bea’s transformation from sweet, sexy newlywed to something other also mirrors the film itself and its transition from the subtle and understated domestic horror rooted in the suspicion and mistrust of a failing marriage into full-on gloopy body-horror more familiar from a Cronenberg film. As the man struggling to trust the woman he loves, Treadaway is excellent, his Paul a frustrated everyman struggling with events beyond his understanding. The film belongs to Scots actress Leslie however who’s phenomenal, giving a terrific and terrifying performance as Bea.

While you’re never in much doubt that things are going to end in tears, Honeymoon is a tense, subtle little chiller that worms its way beneath the skin and makes your flesh crawl with dread.

 

DVD Review: Honeymoon
5.0Overall Score
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