Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey (2023)
Coming in hot and setting the latest tread in horror by taking beloved childhood properties and turning them into hellish portrayals of a blood soaked nightmare. Or at least that is the idea behind 'Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey'. I guess this idea begs the question, is this the start of a new era in horror or a quick cash grab that has instantly over stayed its welcome?
For those of you who know me and have been reading my reviews for some time will know, I seek out the strange and abnormal from within the horror genre. So upon initial announcement the premise behind 'Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey', it should come as no surprise that I had high expectations. Given the use of such a high profile childrens property and the overall early release concept of the film, this sounded like this film had my name written all over it.
I want to start off by talking about the biggest stand out flaw that this film holds, and that is undoubtedly the shocking performance from its main cast and the diabolically unnatural delivery of every line of dialogue. The unconvincing nature of their individual portrayal is so apparent that it is very difficult to focus on anything else on screen. I certainly don't think that the poor writing helps any of them, but that being said, I feel like not a single cast member featured he has any form of acting training or experience. The biggest and most noteworthy culprit of the group is Nikolai Leon who plays Christopher Robin. His wavering British accent is very jarring and if I'm being completely honest I found him to be quite insufferable when onscreen.
It is without question that the biggest draw to this film is its utilisation of A. A. Milne's childrens books characters, Winnie the Pooh and his friends from 100 Acre Wood. However, along with the rest of the cast, these character actors don't do much better in selling this film to the audience. It is very clear early on that the budget for this film did not go to the costume department, as the character design of Winnie and Pooh looks more like two men going to Rob a bank than the intended character they are portraying. At one point its very noticeable that the Winnie character is wearing yellow Marigolds and we as an audience are expected to believe that this is his skin. Given that these are the sole focus and selling point of this production, I expect better results from their costumes.
One thing that came as more of surprise to me than anything is the utilisation of the practical effects team. Granted, they are by no means outstanding, but there were more than a few instances where I took a moment to myself to say "that looked great". The kill sequences and the way these scenes were filmed and presented were executed to a rather high standard. There are undoubtedly some extremely lazy uses of CGI effects that are interjected and overlaid on certain scenes. These do feel unnecessary and looked to me as though they were an afterthought as to try enhance the blood and gore in post-production.
And, although I've given this film a rather hard time, I think that is fair to say that the overall production is surprisingly rather impressive. The direction is more than competent enough, the editing and lighting department is much better executed than this film deserves and even the set design appears to be a rather high quality. I think that half of the reason this film struggled to find its audience lies within the ambitious theatrical release given to it, when it so clearly doesn't warrant it. Had this come straight to streaming platforms I would be looking at this in a much different light, I would have been more forgiving of is flaws and could have possibly found myself more heavily invested in its outlandish concept.