They say things don’t change once you get married. That, my friends, is a load a crap. There is an inherent shift, albeit subtle for some. Maybe it is just a piece of paper, legally, but there is a certain emotional weight to being hitched to another human being… for life.
In a her first feature film, Leigh Janiak, brings us a newlywed couple on their Honeymoon. Bea (Rose Leslie) and Paul (Harry Treadaway) arrive at a cabin in the woods. It is off season, making the area more secluded than usual. No phones, no cable, just fishing, card games and plenty of newly married whoopie. Yes, you read that right. All seems fine and dandy until Bea and Paul take a walk for some food. They run into a Bea’s childhood friend, Will and his wife, Annie. You can tell that Will still has a crush on Bea and that Annie isn’t quite right. She appears out of sorts, perhaps ill. Early the next morning, Paul awakes to find Bea is missing from the cabin. He scours the surrounding woods only to find her standing naked off one of the hiking paths. He scoops her up and brings her inside. She tries her best to convince Paul that she was sleepwalking, but we all know something else is going on here. Paul is sure that Will has hurt her in some way. Bea remains steadfast that she is alright. As her personality slowly begins to change, she isolates herself from her husband. She begins to write fervently in a diary; nonsensical, Shining-esque sentences. Bea denies that there is anything wrong, even as marks begin to appear on her body. Some outside force is pushing this marriage to the brink.
The emotional build up of the script is pretty perfectly timed. Janiak takes on a the role of director as well as screenwriter along with Phil Graziadei. The story is interesting and not what you might expect. Was marriage the right choice? Do Bea and Paul really know each other? Are they on the same page? All these questions come into play while you try and figure out what really going on with Bea. The film was shot in North Carolina, in the woods, surrounding a lake. Other than the other married couple, of the same age, we don’t encounter a single other person. Bea and Paul are forced to face each other amongst the quiet and perhaps underlying issues.
There is a desperation in Treadaway that is fierce and honest. He just wants to hear the truth. As for Rose Leslie, best known for her role as “Ygritte” in HBO’s Game Of Thrones, her American accent is spot on and her transformation from happy young wife to fearful, secretive victim is inspiring and frightening. The two have a real chemistry on screen and are quite believable as a young couple.
The ending is worth the wait, in my opinion. At 93 minutes you’ll be amped up to find out how this Honeymoon turns out and you probably won’t see it coming. Relationships can be scary and so is this film. Go. Commit. You’ll thank me later.
HONEYMOON is in theaters today!
A version of this review first appeared on TheArtsWire.com