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Mike Wilmington

By Mike Wilmington

Wilmington on Movies: Honeymoon


HONEYMOON (Two  Stars)

U.S.: Leigh Janiak, 2013

Honeymoon Rose Leslie

Suppose you drove off for a romantic rendezvous in your parent’s isolated cabin in the woods, and the honeymoon quickly degenerated  from an idyll into something…else. Suppose you went off together to be alone and wild and erotically indulgent and your lover began behaving like someone or something….else.

Suppose romance just started…dribbling away.  Suppose the girl, Bea (Rose Leslie) began forgetting details of your lives and of the English vocabulary. Suppose mysterious bite marks turned up on her thighs, mysterious lights began flashing in the woods at night, mysterious notations popped up in her notebook and she developed a mysterious  aversion to the lovemaking with Paul (Harry Treadaway) of which she earlier couldn’t get enough. Suppose bad-tempered acquaintances showed up in the woods, behaving like menacing mysterious weirdoes, while mysterious secretions and eruptions and objects began appearing on Bea’s thighs and orifices.


…And suppose you had the distinct impression  that somehow you had stumbled into a cheapo, micro-budget version of the 1958 I Married a Monster from Outer Space., or of the 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers, with cut-rate pods and zombies. caught by a nervous camera, occasionally operated by the troubled lovers themselves…


Honeymoon, the first feature by promising director-writer Leigh Janiak milks more chills out of that nutty situation than you might have imagined.  A devotee of highly atmospheric horror masters Roman Polanski and Stanley Kubrick, Ms. Janiak (and her co-writer, Phil Graziadei) try to combine the usual genre shocks and  shivers, with a psychologically astute examination of the problems and perils of a young couple — two intelligent but perhaps too complacent people who may not know each other quite as well as they think.

The movie begins well, with fairly good dialogue and decent acting from its minuscule cast (four people, not counting lurkers in the woods). Costars Leslie (“Game of Thrones“) and Treadaway (“Penny Dreadful“) both have the usual sharp British acting technique, and they play their parts with more style than you expect and give us more depth than genre characters like this usually plumb. Janiak and her cinematographer (Kyle Klutz) don’t display anything like the visual panache of a Kubrick or a Polanski, but at least she’s chosen the right models. It’s not really a good movie, but it’s…promising. Hard-core horror aficionados will probably appreciate it more then I did.

Still, the movie has its moments: times when it almost feels as if the show is about to break the chains of horror movie cheapiedom and become…something else. Mysteriously, these moments usually…dribble away.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

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~ David Simon