|Extrication 4 U|
Dir. Leigh Janiak
Starring: Rose Leslie, Harry Treadaway
Review By Greg Klymkiw
There's an urban legend that goes thusly: A man coughs so violently that a thick rope of dark, gooey, sputum jettisons from his mouth. This is not a case of said sputum yet depositing itself on the floor, wall or any such surface, but rather, continues to hang from the man's mouth in a manner more physiologically commensurate to that of a drooling mastiff in severely hot, humid weather. With every cough, one rapidly following the other, the man continues to release several more inches of the gelatinous goo which, refuses to separate from within. The man grabs onto the foul rope of viscous saliva with both hands, clenching and squeezing for dear life, his eyes popping in terror like Mantan Moreland in a haunted house. The man begins to resemble a church bell-ringer on bennies, tugging vigorously as he extricates more, and more, and yet, more of the bilious, glutinous cordage from his dank, sopping maw. There is no end to the glistening, pus-ridden copulae of meaty, bloody phlegm. He keeps yanking upon it with deranged abandon and it still continues to gush forth, forming finally, a sausage-link-like coil on the floor. It becomes plainly obvious to the gent that this bilious cascade is no simple, garden variety discharge.
To his sheer and utter horror, the man realizes that he's somehow managed to dislodge a hideously diseased lung that surges from his chest cavity, up through his esophagus as it indelicately streams over his tonsils and tongue, grazing his lips and plummeting to the ground.
There is a scene, a major two-by-four-to-the-face horror setpiece in Honeymoon, Leigh Janiak's auspicious feature length directorial debut that brings the aforementioned urban legend immediately to mind. It is, however, no mere diseased lung being extricated, it's something far more disturbingly insidious and downright disgusting. Most of all, Janiak (who co-wrote the clever script with Phil Graziadei) doesn't utilize an orifice as quaint as a mere mouth, but instead violates an opening of far more indelicacy, one which inspires, not only horror, but deep shame.
The picture opens innocuously enough. We meet Bea (Rose Leslie) and Paul (Harry Treadaway), a young, mid-twentysomething newlywed couple who drive straight up north to the former's legacy cottage for what will be a private getaway for our lovebirds to more officially consummate their union that's just been held before friends, family and God, the Holy Father.
For a good, long time we share the couple's giddy, loving abandon - getting to know them as people, but also gaining insight into their relationship. At the same time, we experience the subtle shifts in mood and honest human emotion that any newlywed couple will encounter, even at this early juncture in their relationship. As life will oft have it, there are, then, a few cracks in the fortification of their lifelong commitment to each other, but nothing out of the ordinary and certainly nothing to raise alarm.
For the most part, they're almost insufferably in love and we explore the most intimate details of their new and happy life together. (Yes folks, plenty o' sex twixt our attractive, talented actors.)
This is until, one night. As the couple sleep deeply after one of many vigorous sessions of coitus with no interruptus, a mysterious light begins to shine through their bedroom window. This is no ordinary incandescence and it passes over the bodies of Bea and Paul in a slow, deliberate manner. Rather than bathing them in a warm glow of peace and comfort, we feel like an entity is taking something dear and precious from them and that it will take all their fortitude to keep their love alive.
That, however, isn't the only thing they'll need to keep alive and it's from this point onwards that a slow, creepy crawly horror takes over and indeed intensifies. There's something in them thar' woods that's going to change their lives forever.
And it ain't pretty.
Honeymoon is one of the best horror films you're likely to have seen in quite some time. It is first and foremost a love story, but like many couplings in this genre, the threats on every front are going to mount exponentially. There will be times when they as characters and even we, as the audience, will begin to question our own sanity. Janiak displays a surprising command of the medium and her gifts to scare the living shit out of us are pitched to a very high, but sophisticated degree. Working in the grand tradition of the masterful Val Lewton, Janiak hits all the necessary marks of the RKO horror chief's checklist for great genre films: Focus upon the contemporary, focus upon humanity, focus upon the foibles of society, focus upon the insidious reality of the horror and if there's to be an otherworldly element to the picture, make sure it stays rooted in the relationships, dynamic and interplay between the characters.
And, of course, never, ever, ever forget that the best horror is rooted in atmosphere, so beware!
Beware the forest. Beware the night. Most of all, beware the light.
THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***½ 3 and-a-half Stars.
Honeymoon is a VSC release that plays theatrically at Toronto's Magic Lantern Carlton Cinemas and that will soon be available on a multitude of home entertainment platforms.
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ORDER ANYTHING FROM AMAZON BY USING THE LINKS BELOW. CLICKING ON THEM AND THEN CLICKING THROUGH TO ANYTHING WILL ALLOW YOU TO ORDER AND IN SO DOING, SUPPORT THE ONGING MAINTENANCE OF THE FILM CORNER.