HONEYDEW Review – A Few Great Moments with Slow Pacing In Between
Honeydew stars Sawyer Spielberg, Malin Barr
Written by Dan Kennedy, Devereux Milburn
Directed by Devereux Milburn
Honeydew is, sadly, one of those films where nearly everything that’s interesting is in the trailer. It’s a shame, really, because the movie features some genuinely tense moments and some beautifully-rendered cinematography. If they could have tightened this thing up in the editing room, it might have worked. But the truth is that it’s eye-glazingly dull for most of its runtime.
Milburn directs from a story co-written with Dan Kennedy. Spielberg and Barr stars as a couple stuck in the middle of nowhere during a road trip. They pull over and camp in a nearby field. But they’re soon discovered by Eulis (Stephen D’Ambrose), the old farmer who owns the property. Rather coldly, he tells them to pack up and leave. They do what he says, and, wouldn’t you know it, their car won’t start. So they hike through the woods and end up inside a house owned by Karen (Barbara Kingsley). She’s an eccentric old woman who offers to call for help. But help never arrives.
Honeydew is nearly two hours long when 90 minutes would have been enough. And that’s being generous. There’s probably not much more than 45 minutes of story here. The majority of the film takes place in Karen’s house, where our intrepid couple sit around talking to her. We get a few creepy moments now and then. Like a weird evangelical sermon played slowly on an old cassette tape, and plenty of closeups of suspiciously cooked food. And Karen herself, of course, who has a habit of taking long pauses between sentences and staring off into some void only she can see.
There’s also Karen’s son. He drinks warm milk from a looping silly straw-type contraption. He doesn’t say anything. Partly because he has bandages around his head, supposedly because a cow kicked him in the head. And he’s a fat guy. So everything his character does has to do with food. And we absolutely must refer to him as a pig or some variation thereof at least once. You know how it goes.
Other exciting scenes include Spielberg pigging out on junk food and furiously jerking off in the shower. It’s well into the first hour when we’re finally shown a really brutal surrealist dream sequence. A suspenseful scene with some nice practical gore. I was about to shout, “Do something! Anything!” at my TV just before it happened.
The ending is good old-fashioned hillbilly psycho weirdness that is every bit as intense as the rest of the movie is dull. There’s just so much wasted potential here.
Listen, I’m not at all opposed to slow, deliberate, pacing. I like a good Fassbinder film as much as the next guy. But if you’re going go that route, there must be some compelling reason for it, both visually and narratively. And though Honeydew succeeds in the former, it is almost entirely lacking in the latter.
If only Milburn could have captured even a little of the ending’s suspense and intrigue in the scenes that came before it, this would have been a dramatically different film. Or maybe not. There’s also the fact that we spend so much time with Sam, who is a completely unpleasant character. While it’s true that he’s written that way, the sheer quantity of time we have to deal with him is exhausting.
And Barr’s Rylie is the exact opposite. Her major flaw is she’s a vegan and tries her best to get her boyfriend to eat better. The reason? Sam’s doctor says his cholesterol is through the roof. She’s the “good” to his “bad.” It’s all very one-dimensional.
Man, what did these two ever see in each other? Sam spends the majority of the movie bitching at Rylie and emotionally abusing her while Rylie spends most of her time dealing with his manbaby tantrums. He even pressures her into staying overnight at the psycho hillbilly house, despite every indication that nothing good can come of it. I think she finally agrees to spend the night because she hopes for the sweet release of death just so she doesn’t have to deal with his shit anymore.
So, yeah, the film has its moments. It’s just too bad it’s just not worth the slog to get to them. And I wish I was kidding about the trailer. It really is a highlight reel of nearly everything that’s worth watching. Just check that out and you should be fine.
Honeydew looks great and has an intense dream sequence and ending, but it takes way too long to get there.