‘Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey’ Review: Oh (Don’t) Bother
Feb 16, 2023
Sometimes when a beloved property ends up in the public domain, you might hear people joke about how now anyone can make a film about that story, how even the most innocent of ideas could be turned into crazy concepts. With A. A. Milne and E. H. Shephard’s Winnie-the-Pooh books entering the public domain in early 2022, it only took a five months before the announcement of Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey, a horror take on the adored children’s stories. How edgy! So wild! Too provocative! Writer-director (using those terms loosely) Rhys Frake-Waterfield decided to take an idea that could fit within a tweet, and turned it into Blood and Honey, a film that overstays its welcome before the opening credits. With a film that will surely go down as one of the worst films of 2023, Frake-Waterfield proves that just because a property is up for grabs doesn’t mean just anyone should make a film about it.
Blood and Honey begins with a roughly animated explanation of what the hell happened in the 100 Acre Wood. Much like the children’s story, a young Christopher Robin met a group of creatures and befriended them. Yet when Christopher left for college, well, things got dark, and the animals didn’t know how to survive without their human companion. Starving, the animals decided to kill and eat Eeyore, leaving his nailed-on tail on his grave. This event destroyed the minds of the animals, who began to hate all humans—especially Christopher—and decided to give up their humanity and go back to their animalistic ways.
While this sounds like the setup for a fairly enjoyable, campy horror film utilizing cute animal creatures, the interesting aspects of Frake-Waterfield’s story ends there. After the intro, Christopher Robin (Nikolai Leon) brings his wife Mary (Paula Coiz) to the 100 Acre Wood she had heard so much about. While she doesn’t believe Christopher’s childhood tales, she soon does, when the pair are attacked by Pooh Bear (Craig David Dowsett) and Mary is choked to death by Piglet (Chris Cordell). Christopher is taken and held hostage, while Pooh and Piglet set their sights on Maria (Maria Taylor) and her friends, who rent a cottage in the woods to help Maria get over a recent stalking incident.
Image via Jagged Edge Productions
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With the exception of the animated introduction, there’s really nothing in Blood and Honey that makes this an actual “Winnie-the-Pooh” story. Pooh and Piglet just look like two burly dudes wearing crappy masks, and the film never makes it clear what the hell that’s about. Were they ever animal creatures, or was young Christopher Robin hanging out in the woods with a bunch of dudes in shit Spirit Halloween costumes? At the very least, if Blood and Honey had made these two characters tiny stuffed animals terrorizing any human they come into contact with, at least that would provide an opportunity for some funny imagery. But instead, there’s very little that distinguishes this from a slasher with two guys in random masks.
Frake-Waterfield does the bare minimum in adapting this idea into a horror setting. Occasionally, we get Pooh with his beloved honey and constantly drooling (unfortunately, the honey/drool are indistinguishable from each other, and both just look like lube), and for some reason, Pooh can now control bees, but there’s no attempt to bring any other aspect of Milne’s story to these proceedings. Even stranger, the other characters, like Rabbit and Owl—who are shown in the intro, and are supposedly still alive—are never mentioned again beyond the animated opening. No surprise, Frake-Waterfield doesn’t put any work into this story, knowing that simply calling this Winnie-the-Pooh will be enough to get butts in seats, no extra work needed.
But if that weren’t enough, this is also top-to-bottom a shoddy production. The performances down the line are all atrocious, with no characters making any impression whatsoever. Frake-Waterfield’s screenplay attempts to give us one-note explanations of who these characters are (Maria was stalked, another friend loves her phone, two other friends are in a new relationship, one dies before she even gets there, and the other friend…has glasses?), but they’re little more than fodder for Pooh and Piglet, and Maria and her friends seemingly were cast in order to provide middle school kids something to ogle when they inevitably watch this for laughs. Pooh is able to rip the shirt and bra off a woman with little effort, while another character writhes in the middle of the road, hogtied in a bikini, waiting to get run over by a car. It all adds up to the most generic and poorly crafted slasher you can imagine, and a weak joke without a punchline.
Image via Jagged Edge Productions
Frake-Waterfield is also completely inept on the page and behind the camera. Beyond poorly defined characters, the script is Tommy Wiseau-levels of atrocious. There’s no attempt to flesh out any details, and character motivations make zero sense (after running away from Winnie for several minutes, one of Maria’s group remembers out of nowhere that she brought a gun to this girl’s trip—and it’s also the biggest damn handgun you’ve ever seen), and the whole film isn’t even fun on a cheesy level. It’s just bad and abysmally handled every step of the way.
But let’s not forget Frake-Waterfield’s horrid direction, which helps ensure that this story often doesn’t make sense from scene-to-scene, and negates any fear or excitement that could maybe come from this story. Early on, we see Pooh chasing one of his victims, and the shaky cam is excruciatingly bad. It’s almost like Frake-Waterfield isn’t attempting to film while running, it’s as if he’s just decided to run alongside Pooh, and who cares what footage is captured in the process? Sure, Blood and Honey had an incredibly small budget, and was only filmed over the course of ten days, but it’s hard to watch this and not think that you and some dumb buddies couldn’t put together something at least close to as watchable.
It’s actually almost incredible just how incompetent Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey is on every level. What could’ve been a halfway decent dumb idea becomes a full-on nightmare of bad choices and terrible filmmaking. Blood and Honey truly feels like Frake-Waterfield made a joke about making a Winnie-the-Pooh horror film, then two weeks before the film’s release, he realized “oh shit, this joke has gone too far, and now I have to make this??” Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey is a disaster of an idea with terrible execution, making this a Bear of Very Little Brain.
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