Winnie the Pooh Blood and Honey: Review
Winnie the Pooh Blood and Honey Synopsis: After Christopher Robin abandons them for college, Pooh and Piglet transform into feral and bloodthirsty creatures searching for a new source of food.
The misadventures of Winnie the Pooh receive a gory slasher twist in Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey. Despite its humble, microbudget origins, Blood and Honey is already capturing the attention of our cultural zeitgeist. Shortly after A.A. Milline’s classic children’s book entered the public domain in January 2022, writer/director Rhys Frake-Waterfield embarked on a mission to twist Pooh’s wholesome image into a sinister new offering.
I can see the financial and creative appeal behind Frake-Waterfield’s endeavor. He and his production company, ITN Studios, spent under $100,000 for a film that boasts an innate allure to many fans of Disney’s beloved interpretation of the Hundred Acre Woods. It’s a savvy business move that also opens the door for a refreshingly nihilistic take on a well-known children’s staple.
For all the attention Blood and Honey is garnering, the film itself is an aggressively beige midnight movie experience. Frake-Waterfield and his creative team waste an ingenious concept on a mindless and monotonous film that lacks a sincere artistic vision.
Frake-Waterfield filmed Blood and Honey in ten days before being awarded a few extra days of reshoots. That truncated filming schedule is deeply felt throughout the patchwork final product. The film struggles to enhance its low-budget assets, deploying an endless array of shoddy plug-in effects, cartoon sketch montages as a substitute for plot beats, and awkward cuts to black during chaotic horror scenes. As a result, a sloppy, unfinished air permeates the film like the dark forces infecting Pooh and Piglet.
Franke-Waterfield showcases some promise as a horror filmmaker. He concocts a few gruesome, blood-soaked kills that revel in their unrelenting dread and embrace the film’s mature NC-17 rating. However, his technical craft leaves a lot to be desired. Franke-Waterfield struggles to define an arresting atmosphere, haphazardly implementing clunky smoke effects and drab lighting choices that lack a sense of artistry. He also is not adept at directing actors. The cast is stuck giving stiff performances inside the confines of their generically assembled roles. I can see where the director is a great student of midnight movie sensibilities, but he still needs to refine his ability to craft truly compelling aesthetics.
On a narrative front, Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey feels like a napkins sketch of a screenplay. There is potential on paper for a macabre version of Winnie the Pooh – a narrative that distorts the source’s material’s good-natured cheer in favor of a parable on lost innocence. In execution, the film boasts no ambition other than providing a thinly-connected series of kills. Narrative threads, like the return of an adult Christopher Robbins, go nowhere of interest, while the dearth of humor or personality on display fails to inject a sense of B-movie charm.
Franke-Waterfield is already discussing ideas for a potential Blood and Honey sequel and other horror versions of classic children’s staples. I respect his ambition and business acumen, but this first outing of a potential franchise lands as an oppressively cheap gimmick.
Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey is now playing in limited theaters.