Nightstream: HONEYDEW Review – Rural Horror Gives New Meaning To The Term Food Coma
Directed by Devereux Milburn
Written by Devereux Milburn
Starring Malin Barr, Barbara Kingsley, Sawyer Spielberg
While nowhere near as off-putting or disgusting as 2005’s Feed directed by Brett Leonard (Lawnmower Man), there is a heavy dose of force feeding happening in Devereux Milburn’s debut feature Honeydew. It’s such an unexpected turn and one, perhaps, that only horror can successfully execute within a genre that relies on spoiled plans: a car breaking down in the middle of nowhere, a phone with no signal, or a group of city folk stumbling upon a ramshackle country house. What Milburn rightfully understands is the left turn in horror can sometimes derail everything, so his screenplay makes sure to pepper in themes of food, diet and portion control from the get go. The familiar setup focuses at first on being forced to be a health nut, then being forced into a situation where you wind up going nuts.
Relationship Weight is a real thing but Sam (Spielberg) is dealing with the opposite extreme. Rylie (Barr) insists he’s looking great after quitting carbs, sugars, gluten, etc. to make her happy but he seems absolutely miserable laying in their camping tent on what’s quickly turning into a work vacation. Once they find themselves in a spot of trouble out in the wilderness, they’re befriended by an older white woman named Karen (Kingsley) who offers them shelter at her farm where she cares for her heavy set couch potato son. Rylie almost immediately seems enraptured by all the baked goods lying around rebelling by stuffing his face with creams and cupcakes. Things get truly weird and tripped out from there, with both Rylie and Sam experiencing strange hallucinations as they try and escape from the grips of their hostess and her hubby Eulis (D’Ambrose) who desperately want to keep them around. For a long time.
It’s encouraging and a little bit perplexing that Sawyer Spielberg (son of Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg) would take on such an unconventional role in such an offbeat story that isn’t afraid to go in some truly strange directions; it’s clear that the young actor isn’t afraid either. In one sequence especially, a rail thin man (Dudley) taunts Sam in a funhouse fantasy where his stomach starts to grow uncontrollably in the same way that a Betty Boop character does in a cartoon constantly playing in the living room. Milburn makes Betty Boop scary and shows how the lives of Sam and Rylie are being turned into a twisted version of the cartoon itself which is genuinely freaky.
Barbara Kingsley is joyously creepy as the mastermind of this macabre, food fetish prison the doomed couple find themselves trapped in and she seems to take real pleasure in breaking them down. When things look particularly dire for Sam and Rylie, one of the most insane celebrity cameos in recent memory shows them just how bad it’s going to get. The greatest performances and the best horror movies come completely out of nowhere sometimes, don’t they?
Serving as yet another reminder in horror that the city is usually safer than the country, Honeydew embraces the weirder side of the genre introducing us to a food obsessed family that’s looking for a few more dinner guests.