When the Streaming Starts: Honeymoon
Welcome to the rebirth of my column “When the Streaming Starts!” First off, I’d like to say thanks to the powers-that-be here at Gallows Hill for giving this piece a second life. I’m stoked to see what the future holds for this fine new publication and I’m proud to be a part of it from the start.
By the way, the title of the column isn’t a typo. What I plan to do is discuss in each installment a movie that is currently available via one or more on-demand or streaming platforms -- Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. Hopefully this will introduce horror fans to a great film they might have missed otherwise.
More often than not I’ll refrain from covering big-budget Hollywood horror, as those movies get enough attention already. I want to talk about films that might have flown “under the radar” for most of you . . . and that’s unfair, because they’re really something special.
Who the hell is this James Newman guy and why should I care what he has to say, you might be asking yourself?
I’ve been a horror fanatic since I was four years old. It all started when my father took me to see The Incredible Melting Man.
No, I don’t have a clue why Dad thought that was a good idea; it’s not a family-friendly film by any stretch of the imagination (nor is it in any way, shape, or form a GOOD movie). But I’ve been hooked on this stuff ever since.
I’m more than a fanboy these days. As a matter of fact, I’ve made some decent dough over the last couple of decades making up stories about “things that go bump in the night.”
You might have heard of a few of my novels: Midnight Rain, Animosity, The Wicked, or Ugly As Sin. And then there’s 666 Hair-Raising Horror Movie Trivia Questions. I figure you don’t write a book with that title unless you know what you’re talking about.
But enough about me.
Let’s get to the first movie I want to gush about. If you’re a discerning horror fan looking for something different, you really need to pack your bags and take a trip on this unforgettable Honeymoon.
In nearly every review I’ve read of Honeymoon, it is mentioned that the main characters come across as a tad obnoxious in the early scenes of the film. Paul (Harry Treadaway of Penny Dreadful) and Bea (Rose Leslie of Game of Thrones) are newly married, and for much of Honeymoon’s first half the viewer is witness to just how much these two adore one another. Some have claimed that the sugary-sweet pet names and constant pillow talk are a detriment to an otherwise fine film.
I strongly disagree. In fact, I believe these scenes are imperative.
It is in these moments that we see how deeply these characters care for one another. Paul and Bea share a love that feels very real. They can’t wait to spend the rest of their lives together. And what’s so wrong with that?
What’s wrong, in a world this cruel, with two people being genuinely happy? It is this affection that makes us care about what happens to them in the narrative to follow. We don’t want things to go bad.
But this is a horror film. So we know the good times won’t last forever.
For their titular getaway, the young couple heads to a lakeside cabin in the woods not far from where Bea was born and raised. Their days are spent fishing on the lake, their nights making love while the sounds of nature surround them.
At one point things get a little tense when they cross paths with a man from Bea’s past, a sweaty, angry-looking fellow whose relationship with his own wife appears to be the polar opposite of our protagonists’.
To make things even more awkward, it appears Bea knows him, and perhaps they were more than friends once upon a time. Paul teases his new bride about it, feigning jealousy. It’s all in fun, though. There are no secrets here, and it seems nothing could ruin the newlyweds’ perfect getaway.
But one night Paul wakes to find he’s alone in bed. He stumbles out into the moonlit woods and finds Bea standing naked and bewildered. She can’t remember how she got there.
Later, he recovers her discarded nightgown not far from where he found his wife. It’s covered in something . . . slimy. Something that suggests Bea ventured out into the woods to meet up with another man.
In the days to come, things get more and more bizarre. A strange beam of light shines through the couple’s bedroom window, washing over Bea’s body as she sleeps. She begins to forget things -- simple things, like adding the grounds to Paul’s morning coffee, or forgetting what pancakes are called (!).
And then there’s the strange diary she starts scribbling in, a notebook filled with repeated words and phrases that suggest she’s trying her best to hang on to her humanity, to remember who she was as she quickly becomes something else . . . .
Although I’m still not completely sure what happened to poor Bea (was the cause of all her problems extraterrestrial in origin? Perhaps, but maybe it was something else entirely), Honeymoon is one of the best genre films I’ve seen in the last five years, hands down. It is more than a slow-burn fright flick with a handful of unsettling moments and one very gruesome scene of “body horror” that brings to mind the best of David Cronenberg.
It is an exploration of love and marriage and all of the dark, musty corners therein, a film that asks the question, “Do we ever truly know the one we’re with?”
Honeymoon got under my skin so much that I expect for the next month or so I will sleep with one eye open . . . even if I do trust that my wife of twenty years would never do anything to harm me. If a film can have such an effect on this jaded old horror fan, you better believe it has done its job and then some.
James Newman is the author of MIDNIGHT RAIN, THE WICKED, ANIMOSITY, UGLY AS SIN, ODD MAN OUT, and 666 HAIR-RAISING HORROR MOVIE TRIVIA QUESTIONS. Up next is a new collection, THE LONG N' SHORT OF IT, and IN THE SCRAPE (a short novel co-written with Mark Steensland).
When he’s not writing, James spends all of his free time watching horror movies . . . what else?