Thursday, November 30, 2023
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Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey Review

What a change in pace Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey is for those that remember Christopher Robin. What a disaster of a horror feature, too. Oh, bother. Shaking the cobwebs from the hundred-acre wood and with it destroying the copyright of a legacy brand, Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey hopes to turn its cuddly bear and nervy pig into frightful beasts. On paper, it sounds wonderful. In practice, it equates to an aimless series of slasher strokes that come from a necessity to provide before anyone else does, rather than from a place of love or understanding for the text and the potential for references that play into the narrative found here.  

Neither playing with the slasher genre nor managing a convincing mount of the source text now free to be adapted, the real trouble for director Rhys Frake-Waterfield is making his characters convincing and his placement of them barbaric. Uncoupled and vague killings are as dull as it gets. Starvation drives madness, and the animated opening that comes through Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey is by far the most chilling part of it. Laughable, wax-like costumes provide a feral destination for those in the hundred-acre woods and their need to renounce humanity. It is an interesting swerve that should not be possible, and it is a pivot that does not come to fruition under the hands of Frake-Waterfield. Glum acting and reliance on caricatures that barely worked in the 1970s heyday of shlock, the jumbled set design through all of this makes little sense. 

From the jars of barely empty, trickling honey to a poor selection of camera angles that linger on Pooh behind the wheel of a car, the bits that piece the kills together are of no interest. Neither are the kills, though. In renouncing humanity, it would appear Pooh and friends are looking more like the beasts that once fed them, and that is a failed suspension of reality. Seeing two blokes mull about in animal costumes and overalls does little to relay that these are, in fact, animals, and not just a pair of cosplayers with axes. This is just another generic slasher. There is blood, there is honey, and there is also little in the way of impressive or unique kills. Considering the potential here, and how it could have come through as an original, Pooh-based bit of brilliance, it is staggering to see how often Frake-Waterfield relies on tired formulas for modern slasher features. They bleed out any implication of immediacy or interest in an inspired spin. 

His cast receives the brunt of it. They are stuck in the thick of it and are bumped off in all the usual unpleasant ways. Low budget used to be a challenge of creativity rather than seeing how many corners could be cut with unconvincing CGI blood and flashes of lighting. No luck for Christopher Robin (Nikolai Leon) and company. Amber Doig-Thorne and Natasha Tosini are the usually expendable fixtures in a film that relies on sex, slashes and sickly moments of inexcusable redundancy. Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey hopes to project itself as a series of moments, where the kills take precedence. They do, because it is all the film has, and it becomes quite pathetic. It has no characters; it has no charm, and it certainly has no interest in providing anything but a banal and complacent littering of set pieces that do not utilise the Pooh branding that gave it such a social media buzz.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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