Written by Phil Graziadei & Leigh Janiak
Directed by Leigh Janiak
It has been my contention in the past that the core of fear is the unknown, and thus that the scariest scary movies are those that leverage that fear. As such, I tend to prefer ghost stories and hauntings, especially if they have an element of psychological uncertainty when it comes to horror movies, because they play with the mysteries in the darkness. I also like the slow burn horror, the builders of fear and dread without overly explicit revelations. Based on these premises, Honeymoon was one of the more impactful horror movies I've seen in quite a while.
The first act takes its sweet time, much like the couple. They are simply a young couple in love enjoying being together with no more conflict than a "What do you mean by that?" moment. It is, at this point, relevant to mention that the film is carried ably by its leads, Rose Leslie and Harry Treadway, one or both of whom occupy every scene. Tension is first aroused when, on a trip into town, they encounter Will, an old summertime crush of Bea's, and his wife Annie. Something is clearly not right between Will and Annie, and Annie vaguely and ineffectually warns them to leave.
Fear of the unknown. Fear of losing a loved one. Fear of losing one's own mind. These form a creeping sense of dread that grows and dominates Bea and Paul's time together. When things take a turn for the sincerely effed-up in Act 3, it's an emotional punch as well as a palpable experience of disgust. It's simply and economically managed, but delivering a genuine sense of horror not soon to be forgotten.
The final reveal is never totally explicit. There are enough clues to suggest tropes of a certain type of villainy (yes, I am desperately trying not to say what), but with enough explanation, it could potentially change the nature of the beast in question several other ways. The film doesn't specifically say, which remains fairly faithful to the kind of story it's told up until then. The horror remains nameless, because by the time you can name it, you're probably dead anyway. If anything, they could have left out a few seconds of film and it would have remained even more faithful to the fear it nurtured all the way to the bitter end.
Honeymoon is going to frustrate horror fans looking for gore and jump scares, but for those who can appreciate a subtler approach to fear, it's a perfect match.