Review: 'Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey' lacks rhythm, either a horror or a comedy
'Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey' horro-slasher is written, directed and produced by Rhys Frake-Waterfield
Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey adamantly desires a place in the "so bad it's good" category by depicting what it would look like if Winnie-the-Pooh and his face-eating pal, Piglet, turned into sadistic killers.
This English production, which is making its way to 1,500 theatres in America this week, aims to make fun of one's nostalgia for their childhood. This is illustrated by what happens to Christopher Robin (Nikolai Leon) when he returns home from college and discovers that his childhood friends have turned into murderous monsters.
They make their first kill before some flashy, forensic opening titles straight out of a 2000s horror film. Despite how disturbing it may sound, the perversion of A.A. Milne's work is not the main cause of the issue.
This is done to spite anyone who might be upset by its premise. Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey is too dark to be interesting to look at and lacks rhythm as either a horror or a comedy. The movie's writer, director, and editor, Rhys Frake-Waterfield, wants you to "put your brain off," but that's difficult to do when the dimly lit scenes frequently require you to squint to understand its nocturnal dread in 100 Acre Wood.
The funniest gag is when Pooh appears in threatening images where Leatherface or Michael Myers should be, sporting red overalls and a rubber mask that is frozen into a honey-suckling grin.
Those revelations are what have me laughing the most throughout the movie, and other audience members in the cinema seemed to agree. Frake-Pooh Waterfield's and Piglet, played by Craig David Dowsett and Chris Cordell, respectively, are positioned as towering psychopaths in a way that never gets old, but the film also leaves you wishing it had tried harder.
Even if it simplifies itself, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey struggles to stand out outside of its irreverent IP comic relief. When the Pooh and Piglet references are removed, what remains is a drab stalker thriller that uses its one-dimensional characters as punchlines for gruesome scenes that its limited budget can't quite support.
Five women (Maria Taylor, Natasha Tosini, Natasha Rose Mills, Amber Doig-Thorne, and Danielle Ronald) had gathered at a secluded cabin close to Pooh and Piglet's kingdom of sadism in this instance.
Frake-Waterfield doesn't even amuse us by giving these women much attention or growth, even though we know that one of them, This is Maria Taylor's escape when a stalker chases her throughout the city and traumatises her.
But, "Blood and Honey" puts her in with other simple victims for simpler shocks: ladies are just as naïve as anyone who is seriously hurt by this movie, and we're supposed to chuckle at every blunder these characters make.
A phrase I never saw myself using: Pooh and Piglet then proceed to terrorise these women, along with a few additional victims, occasionally in a manner like a ritual sacrifice. Only when it becomes so visible does it cause discomfort. There are a lot of ladies suffering from brain trauma, many of whom, oddly, have black hair. Oh, no, no.
The frightening scenes in this film are just too drawn out and filled with unnecessary beats that leave dead air, regardless of how euphoric or sick one feels the promise it holds.
There are numerous sequences of stalking or pleading for aid that appear to have been thrown together, and everyone is left waiting for a larger narrative perspective to complete the joke. Piglet is seen walking in a shallow indoor pool while brandishing a sledgehammer at his prey in one scene that lacks self-awareness. Funny setup, but the action in the scene is incredibly slow.
How do you reduce a story to its bare essentials, with Pooh and Piglet more or less rampaging for 85 minutes, and make the film so boring, is the project's most perplexing flaw.
For some, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey will already be a success by the time it is finished and released (and a sequel has been announced). Serviceable filmmaking be damned, some people will want to see what a bloody Winnie-the-Pooh movie looks like, and I get that. (We think Super Bowl commercials to be equally fascinating, albeit perhaps not at feature length.)
Frake-picture, Waterfield's however, is the kind of depressing curiosity that is best enjoyed with a buddy, to be momentarily amused or to commiserate with. If they're paying for it, better.
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