With Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey, writer-director Rhys Frake-Waterfield attempts to transform childhood favourite Winnie the Pooh into a new, iconic horror villain but his efforts are almost all laughably bad.
When the copyright to Winnie the Pooh, as well as all his jolly mates at the Hundred Acre Wood, lapsed, it clearly sparked something in Rhys Frake-Waterfield’s mind. What if he took our childhood friends and made them into maniacal, bloodthirsty killers?
I certainly applaud the idea, but I can’t in good conscience recommend or, indeed, applaud the end product. Winnie The Pooh: Blood and Honey fails as both a deranged comedy and a straight-up horror.
A short, animated intro gives us the basics of the story. Christopher Robin encounters a group of friendly woodland creatures who can miraculously talk and even resemble humans in some ways. Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, Owl and Rabbit depend on Christopher to provide company and food, so when Christopher eventually has to move on with his life, the group promises to never speak again and to give into their animalistic instincts and desires.
This, apparently, includes cannibalism as poor Eeyore doesn’t make it past the animated intro. We don’t really find out what happened to Owl and Rabbit as the film only features Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, both now grown-up and quite monstrous in appearance. It’s safe to assume that Rabbit and Owl were probably also devoured by Pooh and Piglet, the alpha males of the film.
The plot of Blood and Honey is divided into strange, mostly non-sensical parts; there’s the five university students who rent a lavish property near the woods. One of them, called Maria, is struggling with trauma, because no one can make a horror film without a subtext of trauma in it anymore. Christopher also returns to the Hundred Acre Wood, to find his old friends aren’t very happy to find him returning.
What follows is a scattered tale only bound together by a handful of badly staged kills and gore. Granted, a few of the kills are appropriately nasty, but not particularly original. Everything in Blood and Honey feels borrowed; Frake-Waterfield draws so much from other, much better films, you just end up wishing you were watching one of those instead.
Blood and Honey is very funny, to give credit where credit is due. Except the film is clearly not meant to be funny; you end up laughing at all the wrong bits, whether it’s the truly baffling decision made by characters or the cringey dialogue. If Blood and Honey had a little bit more humour to it, and meant it, it would be miles better. Despite the silly premise, Frake-Waterfield seems to treat his film as the next big thing in the canon of great slashers.
The biggest problem is that very little of the narrative even makes sense. Random characters come and go and the editing is all over the place; there’s no coherence to be found here, no logic or reason. Frake-Waterfield also relishes the opportunity to be needlessly cruel and also casts a strong male gaze over the film’s characters. Winnie the Pooh rips one character’s top off to expose her breasts before brutally shoving them into a woodchipper.
Maybe that’s the whole point. Maybe Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey is a giant piss-take, made purely for shits and giggles. It’s the kind of film that is destined to be mentioned in the same breath as Tommy Wiseau’s iconic masterpiece of bad filmmaking, The Room, which enjoys a strong cult status among cinephiles. It’s easy to see how Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey could run for years, selling out auditoriums around the country or the world and patrons donning grotesque costumes to screenings.
Whether or not that’s a compliment, I don’t know. It’s always a joy to see a British horror film make it to the big screen, but we deserve better than Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey. And honestly, Winnie the Pooh deserved better too.
Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey is in UK cinemas 10 March.