Directed by Leigh Janiak
Told with efficiency and a level of intimacy that’s genuinely unsettling at times, Leigh Janiak’s debut, Honeymoon, explores some familiar territory but manages to stay grounded in a personal love story instead of getting lost in space. There are traces of the extraterrestrial, to be sure, but Honeymoon works best when it remains focused on the frightening realization that the person in front of you is not the person you thought they were.
After making it official, newlyweds Bea (Rose Leslie) and Paul (Harry Treadaway) decide not to spend their first week gallivanting around the Caribbean or skiing in Vermont; instead, they go to a remote cabin in the woods with ties to Bea’s younger years. Sure, they don’t have much money but they still manage to keep each other entertained. They’re clearly in love and there’s an immediate, natural ease that both actors establish early on. The first reel of Honeymoon is certainly the least interesting portion of the film but it’s needed to show what life was like for Bea and Paul before their first night spent married swallows up their idyllic day along with any semblance of continuing a normal relationship.
In the middle of the night, Paul finds Bea allegedly sleepwalking nude in the thick of the woods (never a good sign) and, from then on, she doesn’t really act the same and doesn’t behave like her usual self. What’s peculiar is that she seems to be putting quite a bit of effort into pretending that she is still the same woman Paul fell in love with. Discovering Bea in rehearsal and in a disturbing study session, Paul grows increasingly paranoid and suspicious. He also begins realizing that she’s hiding something horrific and, through clues throughout the area, Paul suspects that Bea might not be the only one that this has happened to.
At its core, Honeymoon is about a grand experiment told in a very intimate way, focusing on the fear and worry of someone you love faking their feelings towards you until that love fades completely. Taking the theme of totalitarianism from Invasion of the Body Snatchers and changing it to be more about the individual, the idea gets updated to become more about losing your identity instead of the fear of losing your entire society.
3 1/2 out of 5