James Jay Edwards

Honeydew Rehashes and Refreshes Tired Old Horror Tropes

(Honeydew, courtesy Dark Star Pictures & Bloody Disgusting)

James Jay Edwards reviews Honeydew, an American horror film written and directed by Devereux Milburn. (Dark Star Pictures, Bloody Disgusting

 

Horror movies about city slickers running afoul of country folk are a dime a dozen. But Honeydew does the old trope with a new twist.

Honeydew is about a couple named Sam (Sawyer Spielberg, son of Steven) and Rylie (Malin Barr) who are camping in a secluded rural area. Through a series of inconveniences, they are ousted from their campsite and wind up at the home of a local named Karen (Barbara Kingsley), who shares a run-down farm with her invalid son, Gunni (Jamie Bradley). Of course, Sam and Rylie have to spend the night.

 

(Honeydew, theatrical release poster, courtesy Dark Star Pictures & Bloody Disgusting)

Conveniently, Rylie is a Doctoral candidate who is researching a fungal poisoning phenomenon that occurred in the area, so that factors into the equation as well. Especially as Karen has offered to serve Sam and Rylie dinner.

Honeydew is the feature film debut of writer/director Devereux Milburn. There’s sort of a sophisticated The Texas Chain Saw Massacre vibe to it, with the naïve kids running into the crazy old timers. The biohazard angle gives it a modern feel, so it’s not just an inbred cannibal family hunting down a group of kids lost in the woods. And, because it’s a 21st century production, the gritty, grimy, grindhouse feel of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is nowhere to be found in Honeydew.

 

(Honeydew, courtesy Dark Star Pictures & Bloody Disgusting)

For the first half or so, the whole thing feels very familiar. It does, however, at one point, take a left turn that is … less familiar. The stereotypical stuck-in-a-strange-and-dangerous-place motif gives way to a hallucinogenic fever dream. Or a fever nightmare, as the case may be for Sam and Rylie.

It’s in these weird, surreal sections that the film loses a bit of its steam. What starts out as an atmospheric urban legend of a movie turns into a bizarre circus, almost as if a hit of acid has kicked in for the viewer. The movie finds its way back for the third act, but the crazy, dreamlike sequences are a bit confusing and alienating. This may be intentional, as it does immerse the audience in the experiences of Sam and Rylie, but it is still distracting. It just feels like it’s trying to become a David Lynch movie when it should embrace being a Wes Craven movie.

 

(Honeydew, courtesy Dark Star Pictures & Bloody Disgusting)

When it does embrace being a Wes Craven movie, however, Honeydew is effective. There are moments of palatable dread, cringeworthy gore, and nail-biting suspense. There are also moments of maddeningly stupid character decisions and overly-verbose exposition, but that’s all par for the course. It’s got the atmosphere of a slow-burn horror film with the sensibilities of a cut-rate slasher flick. It just takes a detour through Twin Peaks in the middle.

There’s a lot of competition in the backwoods subgenre of horror. The movies need something to make them stand out. For better or worse, Honeydew has that something. It’s not a classic, but it’s not entirely forgettable either.

 

 

Check out the podcast Eye On Horror for more with James Jay Edwards, and also features Jonathan Correia and Jacob Davison.

 

Related posts

*

Top