Friday, September 1, 2017

Blood Honey: Movie Review


A campy story with death and bees.

There are a number of working titles floating around including “The Hive” and “The Bequest” but I wonder if they considered the very fitting “Death by Bees”. Not only does this film feature a literal death by bees but it also brings to mind the B-horror films like Killer Bees which should attract the right audience for these campy thrillers. Although I’m not sure campy is the right word for a poor story played out very dramatically. 2017

Directed by: Jeff Kopas

Screenplay by: Jeff Kopas, Doug Taylor

Starring: Shenae Grimes-Beech

Blood Honey features Shenae Grimes-Beech in the lead role of Jenibel, a young woman who, as a child, witnessed the suicide of her mother and is still tormented by those images and her current extremely dysfunctional relationship with her father. The film begins with her returning home. The film is filled with gorgeous cinematography showing off this remote home which is reached only by flying in a seaplane. Almost reminiscent of a Northern Exposure type community, except eerie and creepy. There’s a constant unsettling score back-dropping the entire movie and setting so we know despite the beautiful, serene location, nothing is actually right. We also never go long without shots of her dead mother or scenes of her mother jumping to her death.

It’s made very clear that Jenibel is not very well. As events of the movie unfold - and as it bears repeating, this includes a literal death by bees - Jenibel is haunted by current and past traumatic events. She becomes paranoid, and both she and the audience can no longer tell the difference between reality and waking nightmares. This leads to a lot of ridiculous scenes which bring down an already disaffecting story. For example, when Jenibel is desperately looking for somebody to trust, she runs into the arms of a former boyfriend and when they go to bed together, we get to watch them having sex while honey in the colour of blood pours down on them. I guess campy is the right word after all.

It’s a poor story because it’s emotionally uninvolving which also means it’s not suspenseful or thrilling. Jenibel’s father is played by Gil Bellows, a character who is a self-proclaimed asshole and has limited time left to be an asshole. And he’s just crazy. Jenibel’s brother Neil (Kenneth Mitchell) has serious anger issues. And all of the townsfolk were introduced with really creepy music playing behind them, so we weren’t ever supposed to care for them, except perhaps former boyfriend Bruce. Morgan Kelly was able to add a layer of sympathy to him and make him appear as the only sane one. This includes Jenibel who is clearly insane, but also just isn’t interesting enough to care for.

Leading towards the ending, however, there is one good twist. There are a handful of clues in among the actual plot – just enough that viewers could figure out but it’s not obvious at all. The perfect handling of a twist. Which leads to a fitting ending – the only possible ending that all this madness could lead to. Which suggests the filmmakers knew all along what story they were telling, and I appreciate that, it’s just not a particularly watchable story.