If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise. A very big surprise. Two very big surprises.
Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet are back on the big screen, but they are no longer the cuddly, innocent and lovable characters from your childhood. The pair are out for blood and revenge (and honey) in Director Rhys Frake-Waterfield’s Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey.
The friendship of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh and the other characters of the 100 Acre Woods is explained in an animated prologue. It details that the animals were already seen as ‘cross-breeds’ or ‘abominations’ when young Christopher initially met them. However, he befriended the group and spent his formative years with them, this was until he left for college. The group, without the guidance of their human friend, had to endure a hard winter and address an even harder question: how to survive. They decided to eat one of their own, and Eyore became the first victim. This continued until only two remained.
Some five years later, Christopher returns to the wood to reconnect with his childhood friends and introduce them to his wife, Mary, who thinks the group may just be a figment of Christopher’s imagination. However, when the pair find Pooh and Piglet, Mary sees first hand that they are not fun or fictional. Christopher and Mary are attacked by the feral duo, who have become merciless. Oh bother!
Elsewhere, a group of female friends decide to have a weekend away in the country. For one of the women, Maria, it is a chance to try and move on from bring harassed and attached by a stalker. Although, unbeknownst to the group, they are staying close to Pooh and Piglet, and the animal duo now have their eyes set on human targets.
Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey is the exploitation movie it always promised to be. Made for less than $100,000 and shot in 10 days, the film doesn’t try to tread new ground or offer anything particularly innovative in regards to the genre. It simply offers what it teases: Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet massacring people in the goriest fashion. It appears to have worked too - the movie has grossed over $2 million in the USA alone. The Director’s gamble of transforming the much-loved children’s characters into killer creatures has paid off, but this has come at a price - Frake-Waterfield has received abuse and death threats. He told news agency AFP: 'Look, this is mental, I've had petitions to stop it (the movie). I've had death threats. I've had people saying they called the police.'
As previously mentioned, the story isn’t particularly original and the film leans into many tired horror tropes and sub-genres, including slasher and hicksploitation. It’s patchy and plenty of filler has been added to prop up the 84-minute run time. The farcical premise is taken further by even more farcical occurrences in the movie, which include: a Texan(?) mechanic working in the middle of the English countryside, Maria carrying a gun that looks like something she bought from Clint Eastwood and Pooh’s and Piglet’s general character and presentation, which ranges from feral to sophisticated. It is set up early on that the animals in the 100 Acre Wood are ‘cross-breeds’, thus explaining why Pooh and Piglet look like Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers whilst trick or treating. However, despite being ‘abominations’ the pair are developed enough to generate their own power, drive a car and live in relatively comfortable settings. It’s even stated that the pair can talk, but choose not to. It’s also hard to see the pair as anything other than two large men in masks.
What the film lacks in innovation and originality it makes up for with gore. Both Pooh and Piglet are completely savage, dispatching their victims by impaling, decapitating and crushing. The effects throughout are very well done and not a drop of blood is wasted. The final kill is particularly savage and nihilistic.
A sequel is already in the works and the Frake-Waterfield has stated that he has his eyes set on other classic children’s film with a lapsed copyright, Peter Pan. Peter Pan: Neverland Nightmare! is in development and is sure to garner the same anticipation as this movie has.
Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey is held together and carried on its original premise. It’s clunky, uneven and unwieldy. It won’t be a future classic, but it was never trying to be.
Movie Score: 2/5