Honeydew Review: An atmospheric trek into the weird that won’t be for everyone
Writer/director Devereux Milburn brings viewers into an atmospheric trek into the unfathomably strange with his feature directorial debut Honeydew.
Early on, it’s easy to see that Milburn utilizes stylistic perspectives, sharp cuts, and John Mehrmann’s weird as hell score very effectively to create an eerie, unsettling atmosphere. His use of split-screen perspective to show multiple actions happening at once or two different reactions to something helps give a fuller picture on what’s happening and the characters. There’s a great moment in the beginning when it introduces the film’s central couple Sam (Sawyer Spielberg) and Rylie (Malin Barr) that shows their different quirks and interests. The sharp, fast cuts do a great job at catching you off guard and never lets you settle into what’s happening. The most effective element of Honeydew’s eerie atmosphere is easily Mehrmann’s score as it instantly unsettles you with its odd tone and strange sounds.
On an atmospheric level, there’s plenty to be unsettled by in watching Honeydew, the same, however, can’t be said when it comes to the story. The story of a young couple finding shelter in the home of an eccentric old woman only to find something much more disturbing isn’t that far off for a solid horror story. Honestly, the big terrifying turn it takes in the final act and the whole idea of the story is very akin to Texas Chainsaw Massacre with some amped up disturbed weirdness. However, the execution of the strangeness of Honeydew is ultimately what creates a big disconnect to the characters and what the hell is happening.
With how the film throws in cartoon animation and has its characters act strange or have weird interactions with each other, the film is just constantly trying too hard to boggle your mind rather than give you something to connect to. Sam and Rylie are meant to seem like a couple, but their snide remarks towards each other and lack of real chemistry make it tough to connect with them. Not to mention, they have such strange interactions with each other and their reactions to situations just make them fit in with the strangeness rather than be really alarmed by it so there’s no sense of normalcy to gravitate towards or makes the weirdness seem out of the ordinary. To be fair, the whole cast works in their roles incredibly well and stays committed from start to finish.
It’s big turn and reveal also has a solid hook to it and brings all the seemingly obscure weirdness together in an interesting way. However, it takes way too long to get there and doesn’t feel as satisfying because by the time it gets to it, you’re already so disconnected from the film. It leaves viewers in the dark for far too long and only makes you ponder what the hell is even going on. By the time you get answers, you’ve asked yourself what’s happening dozens of times and never gain that special connection to Sam and Rylie to feel scared for them when things go bad. Also, it’s sad to say that the antagonists themselves are just unremarkable and vastly pale in comparison to more memorable horrifying family clans in the genre.
There’s certainly a lot to appreciate for horror fans looking for effective atmospheric horrors with the great technical elements and innate weirdness that Milburn brings with Honeydew. For anyone else though, it’s simply going to be an odd viewing experience with characters and a story that’s tough to connect with and truly enjoy.