Horror movies concerning themselves with cannibalistic families or backwoods rednecks are one of my favorite subgenres of horror. I enjoy the grimy visceral feeling of these films, and watching some bucktoothed Neanderthal get his just desserts at the end is always satisfying. Standouts from this style of horror movie would include the obviously perfect ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ (original of course), ‘Wrong Turn’, ‘Rituals’, ‘Deliverance’ etc.
‘Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey’ seemed like the kind of film, at least from the trailer, that could satisfy this strange predilection of mine.
I had no trepidation going in, I am aware of the hand wringing and pearl clutching that surrounds the idea of a Winnie the Pooh horror film, and to be honest it seems a bit ridiculous to me. No one is ruining anyone’s childhood, the books are still the same, they’ve been out for a very long time and will continue to delight.
So I approached this with an air of excitement, albeit guarded, because I didn’t know any of the cast or crew and that can give me pause.
Beginning with an animated back story, we learn that Christopher Robin, once old enough to go to college, abandoned his animal friends to fend for themselves in the 100 acre woods. This led to catastrophe with one of their number killed and eaten. Horrified that the abandonment had led them to such savagery, those lovable animals that we all know – Tigger, Owl, Winnie and Piglet, decide to turn on humans and make them pay; starting with the hated Christopher Robin. Later, when a group of young women come to stay at a house in the woods, Winnie and piglet rise up to kill them in inventive and ridiculous ways.
Here are the positives: firstly a tip – go with a friend like Rachel, whose enthusiasm for bad movies and whose total immersion in the action will amp up your enjoyment exponentially.
This is a handsome-looking film, the cinematography by Vince Knight is good, moody and far more professional-looking than you’d expect from a low-budget movie. Some of the directorial decisions from Rhys Frake-Waterfield worked well and added some tension. The music by composer Andrew Scott Bell, although mostly used in a completely incompetent manner throughout much of the proceedings, was full and rounded. I also enjoyed the practical mask work.
That’s about it for positives.
As for negatives, there are more than I can even list but I’ll try.
I can’t decide what was worse, the exploitive nudity wedged into a scene with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, the cliche rednecks just waiting around at a defunct gas station to swing into dubious action when the women falter, the obvious misogyny of having a group of all female victims? Or was it all just a clumsy satire of these types of slashers? Oh, how I wish that were true.
Made for a budget of reportedly $100,000, the issue isn’t with the budget, the issue is with a screenplay that is so bad it’s hard to believe it ever passed muster, and acting so abysmal that it’s incomprehensible how these people ever ended up on film. Did Frake just hire his friends? His enemies?
There is no character development; in fact I don’t even remember anyone’s names and for a lot of the film I had two of the characters mixed up, the fact that one of those characters was supposedly the main protagonist and she was so forgettable that I mixed her up with another character, is not a good sign.
Characters show up out of the blue with no explanation or sense of place, the deaths are occasionally done well but are mostly of the silly putty variety, or cutaway from, or shown in animation. Scenes continue well past the point where they should have ended, well past the point where the audiences patience have worn exceptionally thin. Tigger and Owl are a no-show and it’s never explained why.
People seem to be actively avoiding opportunities to escape, choosing to stand and die like a good little victim rather than take the many, Many, MANY chances they are given to get away and get help.
It seems to me that what this film needed (aside from a new script and cast) was a proper editor. Obviously director Frake-Waterfield was far too close to the material (indeed he edited, wrote, directed, and pretty much provided the catering for this film) to be subjective and to realise how much needed to be exorcised from this movie. At only 80 minutes it felt stretched beyond belief, points are labored, moments spinout endlessly… it feels like someone forgot to yell cut.
At the end of the day, it’s a great concept, and visually it worked, but the rest was so shockingly bad that it would’ve been better had they just embraced that and continued down this ‘so bad it’s good’ path like Sharknado. Instead, it couldn’t seem to decide whether it wanted to be a down-home cannibals style slasher, or a cheesy midnight lolathon, and that leaves us with an uneven tone as well as its other glaring failures.
I laughed a lot, but I’m not sure that’s what the director intended, and without an audience to laugh along with, I would have turned it off.
It wasn’t a budget problem, but a lack of skill and talent that made this one only worth watching to laugh at.
As a horror – 1/5.
As a comedy – 2.5/5