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‘Honeydew’s sobering assault on our fears and anxieties manages the difficult job of making a familiar Hansel and Gretel situation feel scary all over again…’

Quickly popped into the “I wasn’t expecting THAT’ file of zero pedigree, yet very effective horror surprises, writer/director Devereux Milburn’s backwoods paranoia thriller might sound like a tough assignment for all but hardened genre aficionados. Sure, this is a couple finding themselves under attack from bucolic locals in the countryside, a staple for decades before Texas Chainsaw Massacre and long after too, but the stylish presentation elevates potentially rote material. With some good acting, an innovative sound design, and a well-developed if minimalist story, Honeydew works like a deadly poison, sending a shiver up the spine without too much recourse to splattery gore.

Son of Steven, Sawyer Spielberg plays aspiring actor Sam, who heads off into the great outdoors with his botanist girl-friend Rylie (Malin Barr); unfortunately, the area where they plan to camp is private land, so the twosome end up looking for somewhere to stay with some urgency. They happen across the property of an old woman, played by Barbara Kingsley, and her morbidly obese son, but as they sit down to dinner, there’s an impending threat, but where does it come from?

Rylie has been researching the hallucinogenic properties of the local flora and fauna, so it’s no surprise when things get a little trippy. Honeydew lands somewhere between the gloopy gross-out of Cabin Fever and the pastoral hell-scape of Motel Hell, both good target areas for a first-time director to shoot for. Barr is good as a scream queen, and Spielberg adds something more here than just a name; his features are familiar for obvious reasons, and his anguish feels genuine as the depth of their hosts’ depravity becomes apparent. Honeydew is constantly on the edge of going too far, and a star cameo perhaps pitches things a little over the edge, but most horror films quickly descend into incoherence, and Honeydew never does.

Pastoral grannies are a fairly rare commodity in films; it’s something of a co-incidence to view Honeydew directly after Minari, in which a little boy’s love for his grandmother develops despite her lack of baking skills. The grandmother in Honeydew certainly makes up for her lack of social-skills with excessive home-baking antics, but the effect is very different, and her hospitality is a veritable model of a resistible social situation. ‘Don’t ever leave the house’ is one of the lessons learned during lockdown, and Honeydew’s sobering assault on our fears and anxieties manages the difficult job of making a familiar Hansel and Gretel situation feel scary all over again. It certainly sent me to bed sobered and chastened, anxiously eyeing up the moonlit countryside glimpsed through the windows in the dead of night…

Signature Entertainment presents Honeydew on UK Digital Platforms 29th March

Thanks to Signature for preview access to this title.



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  1. Bucolic countryside? I was half-expecting another leprechaun to pop into view never mind another oddly-named scion of a famed director. Still, I am a fan of horror of the creepy rather than the splatter kind so this sounds as if it might fit the bill though I am surprised to learn that baking has now become the measure of the good granny.

    • This is a traumatic film to watch, but I could file it with Possessor as being an elevated example of a rather nasty genre; as a few commentors noted, editing and sound design are top notch, and somehow this is only a 15. It’s unnerving fare. I’d like to see a granny swap project between this and Minari.

  2. I remember watching Psycho the first time. Brilliant film, and I thought to myself, not even that scary. Must growing out of that faze or something – great.

    The next day: not a wink of sleep, believing every creak or shadow was Norman Bates here to kill me. I thought, how irrational. Of course Norman Bates wasn’t here to kill me. He doesn’t even exist. That’s what I needed. A nice dose of hindsight.

    The day after that: another sleepless night. Jesus Christ, Hitchcock, you’ve still got it.

    The third time I did get to sleep (thankfully) even though I’m pretty sure I dreamed about psychopaths dressing up as their mothers. Call me wet, but I do not like horror films.

    Thank you for reading my needlessly long comment.

    • Not at all; I thought I was past the phase of jumping in the dark after seeing a film. Psycho had the same effect on me when I was ten, afraid to see what was coming. But I think this film lives up to what a good horror film does; repulse you, but also leave you waiting for the killer blow. Gets under your skin and leaves you vulnerable to things that go bump in the night. Glad it’s not just me!

    • I saw the whole film. I really didn’t think I could make it through, but it was kind of compelling the way it was told. But you get a PASS for this, not suggesting any non-horrors go near this, it scared me!

  3. I’ve mostly sworn off horror movies. I enjoy them in the moment, but even when they’re laughably ridiculous I go to sleep that night and inevitably ever creak of the houses becomes a mass murderer/rapist/etc entering my house….

    • I expressly forbid viewing of this one, in that case. I fully anticipated switching off after ten minutes, but I was gripped with dread, and not without reason. I’ll need a torch and a teddy bear if I see anything like this in the near future; can’t believe it’s a 15 in the UK. I think I’m getting more easily scared as life goes on…

    • I’m not big on torture films, and was wary of this, but it’s really good and even though I’m not a genre fan, couldn’t deny it a four star. Will remind you of your Hills Have Eyes days…

      • The trailer is well done. I like the editing job they did on it. The chubby guy looks like Laurence Harvey from the Human Centipede movies.

        • I’ll bow to your superior knowledge of the Human Centipede films; I think I was off the day we did them at school. Looking back, it’s amazing how slowly they told this story, but the way its told has impact.

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