Paul (Harry Treadaway) and Bea (Rose Leslie) are a newly married couple, heading to Bea's old rustic cabin in a forest to spend their honeymoon. Right off the bat, they are saucy and intimate, constantly having sex and enjoying each others presence, leading us to believe their marriage, if kept up this way, will be long and prosperous. One day, the two have a strange encounter with a man named Will (Ben Huber), who works at a diner close-by (why there's a diner in the middle of desolate nowhere is beyond me, but I digress) and recognizes Bea, referring to her as "Trixie." Paul is offput by the relationship Bea and Will seem to have held at one point, along with the fact that Will seems to be unstable, violently demanding they leave the premise one moment, warming up to him and Bea the next, and then putting his wife Annie (Hanna Brown) in a headlock.
Following that interaction with Will and Annie, Bea's behavior becomes increasingly strange and anti-social, as she often forgets basic information about her life, resorting to her keeping a detailed diary of things like her name, her birthday, and her favorite color. Paul becomes concerned with her behavioral patterns, as any husband would, and desperately tries to piece together what is haunting Bea and why it just decided to happen now.
Bea isn't haunted in the conventional, supernatural definition, nor is Honeymoon really a supernatural film. It's a mystery at heart, with horror elements draping it all over the place, and finds some success as it weaves between those two genres. The film almost feels like the alternate-genre take on The One I Love, this year's video-on-demand sleeper hit about a couple who vacation in a resort home to work out their secrets between one another while becoming entangled with something incredibly mystifying. Honeymoon and The One I Love function similarly because, much like with the latter, while the performances and the pacing are things to admire, the downside to both pictures is their lack of coherent explanation, or even an attempt at explanation.
While The One I Love was relatively poor at summarizing its plot, and just making it so we could kind of latch on to the ideas presented in a metaphorical light, Honeymoon barely hints at the possibilities of what exactly could be haunting Bea. I have a theory I'm not even going to try and articulate in writing, but the point is, I should at least have enough confidence when exiting a film like this to understand what has happened to the film's characters, whom I just spent an upwards of ninety minutes with. The fact that Honeymoon doesn't really give us much to define in the way of narrative explanations is a tad insulting to those who have cordially tried to follow the film, only to be rewarded with an ending that isn't even necessarily ambiguous but incredibly gray.
Honeymoon's other issue, although it is far more insignificant, is it misses a grave opportunity to turn the tables on Paul as a character. Rather than practically confirming that Bea is indeed the one with the troubled nature and Paul is the sane one, trying to come to terms with his wife's behavior, first-time writerdirector Leigh Janiak could've bent the psyche of Paul in a way that we'd be asking whether or not Bea was actually losing sense of character or Paul was just an unstable, paranoid husband.
Nonetheless, Honeymoon invites a slowburn tactic of horror filmmaking into the mix, which is pleasant enough, as well as focusing on two characters levied by solid lead performances in a delightfully mumblecore-style fashion. Janiak's pacing is also nice, as things begin to slowly divulge from a calm and collective environment to a more haunting and unsettling one as Bea's instability begins to surface. The final act, however, feels as if Janiak forgot to invite many visualshock elements into her screenplay and decided to make use of grotesque features and a vague ending. This is where Honeymoon exits low-key craft and enters the realm of horror films that aren't totally satisfying or rewarding. I feel if I spend too long trying to analyze Honeymoon in a deeper sense, I'll only grow more and more disappointed at what I didn't see rather than appreciate what I did see, and, as of right now, I still kind of like the film.
Starring: Rose Leslie, Harry Treadaway, Ben Huber, and Hanna Brown.
Review by Steve Pulaski from the Internet Movie Database.