A true dumpster fire of a film
“Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” is true cinematic garbage. If not for the fact that I was writing a review for it, I probably would have walked out of the theater less than halfway through. The story is nonsensical, characters unbearable and camerawork headache-inducing.
The story starts off with Christopher Robin (Nikolai Leon), the original protagonist of the “Winnie the Pooh” books, explaining to his fiancée Mary Robin (Paula Coiz) about his childhood anthropomorphic friends, namely Pooh Bear (Craig David Dowsett), Piglet (Chris Cordell), Eeyore, Rabbit and Owl. Christopher was forced to leave these friends while leaving for college. Unbeknownst to Christopher, after he left, the creatures were unable to find food over the winter and resorted to eating Eeyore, traumatizing the rest of them and cementing their hatred of humans.
As Christopher and Mary go to visit the Hundred Acre Woods to find his old “friends,” Winnie and Piglet attack them. Fast forward a couple of years and a new group of university students are preparing to enter the same woods to spend time at a cabin they rented. Needless to say, the vacation didn't go as planned.
If that plot summary made no sense to you, you’re not alone. Starting from the top, Pooh Bear and the gang are literally forest creatures, so there is no reason they wouldn’t be able to find food for themselves. But fine, maybe they just… forgot they could eat other things instead of their friend.
What isn’t fine is how the film just forgets about two of the few remaining un-eaten characters, Owl and Rabbit. These two are integral parts of the backstory and the Winnie-the-Pooh books, so what happened to them? Unfortunately the movie is simply not interested in telling us, as they disappear only three minutes into the film, never to appear again. Unfortunately, forgetting key information seems to be a trend in the film.
For example, there were supposed to be six students on this vacation in the woods, yet nobody notices the disappearance of one of the students after being killed by Pooh Bear. Again, I guess the characters just forgot? Even more egregiously, after Pooh Bear breaks into the vacation home, one of the students, Maria (Maria Taylor) just forgets where she left her gun. Yes, not only did she bring a gun for no reason on this trip, she also managed to misplace it in the span of around two hours. This was a massive .357 magnum, not a pair of sunglasses.
Moreover, It’s revealed in the opening credits that not only does everyone know about the existence of the monsters, newspapers have literally published articles detailing their gruesome murders complete with pictures of the monsters. Even if these college students were naïve enough to go to the woods anyways, there is no way that anybody would own and rent-out a cabin in the local murder woods.
Narrative pitfalls aside, the characters are also utterly lifeless and uninteresting. Despite being one of the main characters, we learn almost nothing about Christopher’s motivations or why he even came back to the woods. I would be hard-pressed to name a character trait of Christopher aside from being the stereotypical protagonist.
Likewise, the group of five remaining college students might as well have all been identical quintuplets because they all talk, think and act the same. There is nothing to distinguish any of them, to the point where I honestly forgot half of their names.
And if the characters were boring, the acting is just next-level bad. Nikolai Leon’s performance is distractingly poor. When someone’s fiancée gets murdered in front of their eyes, they usually let out some kind of reaction. Leon, on the other hand, does pretty much nothing, just staring blankly as his fiancée is murdered.
This is by no means an isolated problem. Pretty much every character talks like they’re half paying attention, lines are delivered poorly and emotional scenes are ruined by unconvincing performances. To be honest though, what were we expecting from a movie who didn’t care enough to even cast actors for Rabbit and Owl in the first place?
The editing is also atrocious. There are jarring cuts everywhere, poor digital zooms and in one particularly bad instance, accidental time travel. After being chased by Pooh Bear at night, one student runs into a new room and it is suddenly daytime. Pooh Bear enters the room, she runs out and alas it is night again outside. That’s right, the editing is so incomprehensible they use\d a take from daytime in a scene taking place at night.
If all that wasn’t bad enough, the terrible camerawork is the rancid cherry on top. The movie makes excessive use of Dutch-angles, making every scene feel off. Moreover, during chase scenes, they bring “shaky-cam” filmmaking to the next level with camerawork so jarring you can barely tell what you’re looking at.
So does the film have any redeeming qualities? Well yes, it actually looks pretty good. Sets are well built and all fit in thematically. The cinematography is also decent, with some shots nicely framing characters or making creative use of lighting. Similarly, a lot of the visual effects are quite impressive, especially the gory deaths that are sprinkled throughout the film. Nevertheless, putting a gold veneer over this catastrophe of a movie is nowhere enough to save it.
“Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” was released on Feb. 15 and is now playing in theaters, including Regal Majestic Stadium 20 & IMAX.
Alexander Liu. Hi, I'm Alex (he/him) and I'll be a staff writer for SCO this year. I'm passionate about public policy and international relations. In my free time, I enjoy drawing and watching terrible rom-coms. More »