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‘Blood Honey’ Is A Bit Of A Slow, Sticky Mess

A woman haunted by a family tragedy, an isolated wilderness setting, and a cast of creepy, off-kilter folks who may or may not be concealing something nefarious — the ingredients are all there for a throwback folk-style horror story, but an overly thick plot and some gooey pacing hold Blood Honey back as it slowly seeps to an abrupt conclusion, smothering its potential for sweet tension in a mostly flavorless buildup.

Things start off promising, as a young girl watches a horrific incident occur at the lakeside hunting lodge she and her family call home. Years later, Jenibel returns to the place she grew up, hoping to resolve deep-seated issues with her dying father and hopefully come to terms with her childhood trauma, but everything and everyone seems just a bit odd in their welcoming back of the “prodigal daughter.” The conspicuous presence of an alcoholic honey-based drink (the lodge doubles as a bee farm), as well as the total lack of guests, raises even more suspicions about the activities of Jenibel’s father, brother, old flame, and other employees of the resort. The stage is set for some kind of beekeeping cult or dark hive; what is going on here?

Unfortunately Blood Honey gets bogged down in aimless and inconsistent interactions instead of maintaining its early momentum. Jenibel is mad at her dad, he’s haughty toward her, her brother is friendly until he isn’t, and the rest of the weirdos talk to each other as if conversation with a human being makes them uncomfortable. Trying to piece together the puzzle of this family feud is engaging for a bit, but too often scenes end with more confusion than when they started, as if everyone is constantly shifting their behavior depending on what tone needs eliciting. On top of that, the causes for the drama remain vague far too long, in some case beyond film itself, so caring for the plight of those involved devolves into more of a pain than a pleasure. For viewers thirsting for some movie honey mead, information is drip-fed at best, even when vital (like why exactly is Jenibel angry at her dad? I still don’t really get it, yet it seems so important) and while some withholding can be fine, the ending’s revelations provide no real excuse for the cloud of frustrating ambiguity obscuring even basic motivations.

Sometimes not knowing where anyone stands can be fun, but here it’s a chore — and when the lure of the mystery fades, there isn’t much left to latch onto. Director Jeff Kopas generally uses the wilderness setting well enough, but neither the mountainous terrain nor the lodge itself ever become the characters they need to be in order to prop up the story’s dread. A choice to occasionally switch to a GoPro-like first-person view also distracts, trivializing and lending a light air to what should be somber, powerful scenes. The camera rarely seems placed for tension in Blood Honey, and the otherwise unobtrusive visuals are less interesting for it.

The cast does their best with the material, but too often they too seem to be struggling with consistency, unsure of themselves, and by the time things start happening again, most viewers will likely have checked out. The rushed effort to generate excitement at the end is too much too late, a swarming barrage of grasping attempts at paranoia and illogical reveals with no foundation to rest upon. Human behavior really takes a hit in the last act, and as a result, Blood Honey ultimately crumbles apart under the weight of ideas it hasn’t supported from the start, doing its best to mask the bland taste with some jumbled psychological suspense, but ultimately leaving an unsatisfied craving for B(ee)-movie pulp thriller done sweetly.

Written By

Patrick Murphy grew up in the hearty Midwest, where he spent many winter hours watching movies and playing video games while waiting for baseball season to start again. When not thinking of his next Nintendo post or writing screenplays to satisfy his film school training, he’s getting his cinema fix as the Editor of Sordid Cinema, Goomba Stomp's Film and TV section.

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