It was all sunshine, rainbows and happiness in the 100 Acre Woods. Christopher Robin would visit his woodland friends daily and spend the most wonderful time frolicking and playing. There was Rabbit and Eeyore, Piglet and Tigger. But, Christopher Robin’s best friend of all was a honey-eating, soft-spoken bear named Pooh.
But one day, when the tales of Christopher Robin and Pooh became public domain, and free for all to adapt the story of the friends in the 100 Acre Woods any which way they like, a filmmaker named Rhys Frake-Waterfield created an atrocity filled with violence and terror. A film that attempted to be so shockingly vile, that no one stopped to ponder just because we can, doesn’t mean we should!
Winnie The Pooh: Blood and Honey is the incredibly on-the-nose title for a new slasher film centred around many people’s beloved childhood classic characters of Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh. Starting off with a hand drawn animation that quite sweetly depicts the wonderful life between a child and his cuddly-creature friends, soon turns dark when it’s revealed that Christopher Robin grows up and goes to college, leaving Pooh and his friends to starve and struggle to survive.
The primal instincts of these animals reaches full regression from the beings they once were when it is explained that Pooh decides eating Eeyore is the only option to satiate their immense hunger. Their ravenous tendencies develop a bloodlust in Pooh and Piglet, transforming them into grotesque, large monsters who can no longer talk, and only have one thing on their minds: find and kill Christopher Robin.
As Pooh and Piglet venture out of the 100 Acre Woods to feed their bloody desires, a group of women being their girls weekend getaway in a house no too far from the woods itself. And what is initially supposed to be a weekend of therapy and support for one of the women who experienced a traumatic event in their life, leads to a crossroad of death and destruction caused by the cute, fuzzy, weapon-wielding furballs.
It took a little while for me to decide whether I thought Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey was in on it’s own joke or not. This film falls into every horror trope imaginable. There is over-the-top deaths, characters making god-awful decisions, terrible acting and even one scene of unnecessary nudity that was the cherry on top of the ‘trope pie’. And even though this film was screaming at the audience about how not-serious it is, it genuinely wasn’t until the last 30 minutes that I was fully convinced that this is one big piss-take of a horror movie.
The main reason this movie feels that way is because it battles with its own self-awareness. This is a bad movie, just plain and simple, but it doesn’t always carry that endearing feel of a film that is ‘so bad, it’s good’. The movie is so in on its own joke, that it doesn’t feel as enjoyable as it could be. The intentional creation of a bad movie delivers on exactly that, a bad movie.
Sure, there a definitely elements at play such as budgetary restraints resulting in some of the violence being shown off screen, or the story predominantly only being set in two or three locations. But those cheap-looking elements of the film are actually the highlights. Those are the authentic moments of a director trying his best to make something reasonably effective with the resources he has, and that’s what makes a bad film enjoyable. When a shot cuts to an incredibly obvious dummy-stand in’s head exploding, and blood and bits fly everywhere, that’s where the enjoyment is had! There are some pretty fun and brutal kills. Plus, a scene that takes place in Pooh’s decrepit 100 Acre Woods treehouse lends to some decent tension and action.
Pooh’s and Piglet’s grotesque designs balance a fine line of being excessive and realistic to a point where it can be a little distracting when they’re on screen. Their movements and mannerisms come across as more ‘inbred humanoid freak’, rather than the animalistic rage that’s alluded to in the opening scenes. However, that is one element of the film that doesn’t break the immersion too much.
Where the enjoyment is taken away is during an elongated monologue in which one of the ‘Girls Getaway’ group is recounting her traumatic experience with a stalker entering her house. The surface level take on how this has affected her drags the movie down tonally, and brings the pacing to a halt. It also doesn’t help when the monologue is performed in monotoned and emotionless fashion, much like most of the performances in this film.
It’s always important to set up your ‘final girl’, so the audience has someone to truly root for when it comes to the final confrontation between protagonist and the monster they’ve been fighting. But, the issue in this film is that her trauma isn’t taking seriously enough, and doesn’t relate to anything she has to overcome later in the film. The audience is subjected to an awkward and frankly gross flashback scene of a stalker attempting to undress her in bed, and rather than feeling empathetic to this awful experience she’s encountered, the scene leaves you feeling gross and confused as to why it’s even in the film, once again showcasing the film’s lack of self-awareness. That scene works only works in a story in which the character gets to properly work through her trauma, and overcome it in a heroic way, inspiring those who may have experienced something similar. It doesn’t really belong in the film where it’s brought up once, and then we get the group of girls stalked by a giant bear and pig in their house.
Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey was never going to be the next best horror film, and no one should have really expected that. But even in saying that, there are still horror films of this calibre and quality that are thoroughly entertaining because they lean so heavily into the insanity. Occasionally, this film does that, but not enough to make it worthy of singing it’s praises for being ‘so bad, it’s good’. This is a fun idea, a wacky premise, a complete dismantling of childhood memories that could’ve been significantly more fun had the proper time to focus on being more self-aware about what movie is being made had been taken by the creators.
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