According to various travel websites, the number one idyllic destination for couples to spend their honeymoon is Hawaii. However, considering that Southend on Sea – featuring the world's longest pier – doesn't even appear in their top tens suggests that these results can pretty much be taken with a pinch of salt.
But what if you don't have the kind of money to splash out on Hawaii, or Southend for that matter? Where could you possibly have a fun time on the cheap? Well, what says romance more than a cabin in the woods, right?
Young couple in love Bea (Rose Leslie) and Paul (Harry Treadaway) have just got married. As they are just starting out together, they don't have the cash to spend on a lavish honeymoon. Luckily for them, Bea has a little family retreat in the woods, next to a lake, where they can hang out with each other post wedding.
It's not in the best of condition - the electrical wiring for instance has seen better days - but despite there being a bear skin on one of the walls, it isn't at all a bit creepy, and perfect for their needs.
One day they pop out to a local restaurant, where the owner growls at them that they're not open. He takes a closer look at Bea and recognises her; they used to be friends when they were young, when Bea and her family came up to the lake. Although slightly friendlier in his demur – to Bea at least – he still acts worryingly odd. Luckily for them, the restaurant is closed, so they go on their way.
As the days go on, Paul starts to notice little changes in Bea; she doesn't quite seem her usual self, and these odd marks start to appear on her inner thighs. The more time the pair spend together alone in the woods, the more their honeymoon becomes even more memorable, but for all the wrong reasons.
If you like your fantasy telly then this film's two leads will be quite familiar to you: Leslie appeared in Game of Thrones as Ygritte, and Treadaway played Victor Frankenstein in the recent gothic drama Penny Dreadful. What's interesting, and sadly this nugget of information is probably the most interesting thing about this film, is that both these British actors are playing American characters. Considering that they are the only major characters in it, it's surprising that Americans weren't cast in the first place. Still, the home-grown pair do really well, considering.
Leigh Janiek, who not only co-scripted Honeymoon but makes his directorial debut with it, is obviously a fan of slow-burning films. Unfortunately, he takes this plodding nature to new, dull levels. The problem is that the premise of the film could just be spun out to half an hour of air time for something like an episode of The Twilight Zone, but a full ninety minutes proves a stretch too far.
Much hangs on the two leads, mostly because they are pretty much in every scene from beginning to end, and they work truly hard to evoke a sense of the supernatural. They're also helped admirably by the guy providing the plinky plonky sound effects, who they certainly got their money's worth from.
Janiek makes the schoolboy error of leaving his big idea for the last fifteen minutes of the film. Not only that, he also decides to leave the audience with a fair amount of ambiguity as to what exactly happened during the last hour and a half. With the amount of down time they have to endure, it would be difficult not to walk away from this experience feeling disappointed by the lame payoff.
Still, both Leslie and Treadaway give more of themselves than the film deserves, and Janiek's various sprinkling of hints of horror might be enough for some to get them to the film's flat finale.
And it has to be said that if you expect a honeymoon from hell, then you really can't go wrong with Southend.