Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey Review: An Un-Bear-Able Horror Cheapie
The most well-known works by British author A.A. Milne lost their copyright protection last year, making them publicly available. “Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey” is the first (and, let’s hope, worst) effect of that evolution. It’s a terrible movie that falls woefully short of even the most minimal standards established by its intellectual gimmick.
However, that ploy, along with some early photographs and excerpts, drove the newest film from the successful micro-budget outfit ITN Studios to viral prominence, leading to its first theatrical release after an alleged 700+ titles in 32 years. Distribution in additional countries is either underway or soon to begin (it has already started in Mexico), and home formats are on hold until that limited run is finished, according to Fathom Events.
There is already talk of a sequel. Although it would be good if the success of this movie helped the filmmakers’ upcoming works, that fluke pop-culture awareness is unlikely to happen again — at least not among audiences who will still be miffed about paying real money to see a movie this bad.
The characters and gentle whimsy of Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood are so known to numerous generations that one could forget it all originates from just two books, “Winnie-the-Pooh” (1926) and “The House at Pooh Corner” (1928), plus some poetry. They were undoubtedly enormously popularised by other media, especially after Disney acquired the rights in the early 1960s, along with the visual template provided by illustrator E.H. Shepard’s illustrations.
There has always been some degree of fidelity to the spirit, if not the letter, of the original stories, reflecting their problem-solving but comforting tenor as what little Christopher Robin imagines the inner lives of his stuffed animals to be. The idea of that adorably self-contained environment being twisted for pulpy adult genre purposes has an inherent subversive appeal.
However, “Blood and Honeymain “‘s (though by no means sole) flaw is that it does practically nothing to parody or even just comment on the rules of the Winnie the Pooh universe. All we get is a guy in a cartoonish Halloween “bear” mask (Craig David Dowsett) and another in a “pig” mask (Chris Cordell) —it’s hard at first to figure which is which — running around killing people. This movie could just as well be called “Michael Myers-Type Unstoppable Killing Machine And His More Texas Chainsaw–ish Pal Run Amok.” The only reason we associate it with Milne’s universe is because the film keeps verbally telling us to do so.
In fact, a narrator begins by describing how little Christopher Robin made friends with a bunch of “crossbreeds, abominations” (as opposed to baby toys) when he was a small boy and fed them from the family pantry to keep them calm. However, once he left for college, they became wild and devoured poor Eeyore in one particularly brutal winter. They then vowed to exact revenge on both their patron who had abandoned them and on all people.
The line-drawing animation that accompanies this background is quite basic and unimpressive, but it ends up being the best thing that “Blood and Honey” has to offer. Then we get a live-action, adult Christopher Robin (Nikolai Leon) going back to the woodland to meet his bride and his old friends (Paula Coiz). The reunion is not successful.
Next, we encounter Maria (Maria Taylor), who has PTSD after becoming the target of a shady admirer. She goes on a weekend getaway with five other young women friends to a rural rental house at the advice of her therapist in search of peace. One never even gets to the cottage, while others never go past their stereotypes of Bitchy Blonde, One With Glasses, Lesbian Couple, etc. Eventually, other characters enter the scene solely to add to the death toll.
It’s bad enough that the movie lacks the intelligence to properly parody the source it took as inspiration. Strangely, though, it doesn’t fully parody slasher cliches while missing the talent to play them seriously.
The 84 very lengthy minutes are broken up by blackouts while scenes slog along aimlessly. We hear several versions of “Oh my gosh” and “Why is this happening?!” since it looks that much conversation was improvised by actors who lacked the necessary skills.
Even by the extremely forgiving criteria you’d use to a movie called “Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey,” logic gaps are shoddy. When everything else fails, start the viewer drinking games. Such a product is constructed (and in this case, being marketed) for laughs, whether intentionally or not. However, no matter how low you’re willing to go, writer, director, and producer Rhys Frake-Waterfield makes it damnably difficult to have much fun.
This one deserves gratitude for its few components of relative proficiency in an age where technology has made even many shoestring features look very crisp. These include portions of Vince Knight’s widescreen photography and the original score by Andrew Scott Bell. It might be to the discourse’s advantage if the sound mix is frequently bad enough to bury the speech in music. Additionally, if the photographs are regularly dimly lit, gore effects and stunt work are likely obscured and unsuitable for clearer exhibition.
The actors can’t be held responsible for the appalling overall outcome because they blatantly lack the resources and direction needed to do any better. One can only hope that Frake-Waterfield and his colleagues will take use of their good fortune to slow the hell down since “Blood and Honey” is almost certainly going to generate a sizable return on its little investment. In the past year alone, he has released 14 pictures as a producer; the four films he self-directed all debuted in the previous four months. There is a narrow line between being frugal and just creating garbage out of garbage.
It does not seem unreasonable to request that some effort be made, even if just on behalf of famous deceased authors who never requested such treatment, with Bambi and Peter Pan (as well as more Pooh) presumably next on his schedule. Even viewers who are only looking for a few stupid yoks deserve better than this depressing calibre of trash.