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Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 (Film Review)

4 min read

Ever since had the idea to turn the lovely stories of Winnie-the-Pooh into nightmarish horror films, the concept has been explored, expanded (Poohniverse: Monster Assemble) and criticised. While the unique and fresh premise drew the audience in, the unbalanced tone, the restrictions due to the limited budget, and the underdeveloped narrative prevented the first feature from succeeding. But Frake-Waterfield believes in this flawed yet fascinating concept as he's now back with another dark adventure. With him are the horror incarnations of Pooh, Piglet, Owl and Tigger, a bigger budget and writer Matt Leslie (Summer of 84). Will Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 be worth a trip to the Hundred Acre Wood, or do you need to run away from this feature as fast as you can?

If you don't like a splatter fest full of gut-wrenching, violent, dark humour and visceral kills, then it's option two. Otherwise, option one could be a good choice for you. The level of sadistic slashing, madness and gore is dialled up to eleven in the film, which picks up right where the first feature left off. Christopher Robin – now played by Scott Chambers – is still reeling from last year's events. To come to terms with what happened back then and with the abduction of his younger brother, he goes to hypnotherapy and pursues a career as a nurse. However, leaving the past behind is easier said than done. People are blaming him for the Hundred Acre Massacre and brand him as a social blood-thirsty piranha. All the while, Pooh and his expanding crew are killing the people of Ashdown like there's no tomorrow.

It's those killing sprees that take up the majority of the 93-minute runtime. While there's undoubtedly much more emotional depth than in the first one because of the moving performance by Chambers and the touching narrative involving Christopher's parents and his best friends, the unpolished kills take centre stage in this raucous and “don't take me too serious” horror. Every time the film shows a sign of dullness, Frake-Waterfield throws in a cleverly executed and delightful kill. The nasty aftermath of the many beheadings, mutilations and murders is being taken to a higher level thanks to the usage of dark humour and spurts of memorable one-liners (“Come here, you fluorescent bitch” will undoubtedly get a big laugh). Also, kudos to the filmmaker and his team for implementing some footage of the first movie in a metaverse way.

Another aspect that makes the kills feel gnarly and engaging is the much more improved character design. When watching the first feature, it looked like the costume department went to the nearest Halloween store to get the costumes. This time, however, they spend much more time developing detailed suits. While some of the characters' designs are difficult to distinguish from each other – Tigger and Pooh look very similar in the dark – you can tell that a lot of the bigger budget went to creating much more convincing and nightmarish monsters. Alongside the costumes, the make-up team took their work to a new level. Instead of the monstrosities looking lifeless, the make-up now conveys many emotions. Not the ones you want – as this movie certainly has no space for happiness and joy – but the ones this feature needs.

The impact of the more extensive budget is also tangible when looking at the overall set design and the cinematography by Vince Knight (My Bloody Galentine). The climatic scene in the warehouse is undoubtedly a prime example of that. If the director had included a similar scene in the first scene, it would never have been this impactful. The strikingly lit moments, the fast-paced camera movements and the dynamic score (certainly the highlight of this movie) ensure that the film, especially the final, oozes a Texas Chainsaw Massacre vibe.

Speaking of light, while many of the obscene moments are lit perfectly – either with fluorescent or dim light – there's room for improvement in the light department. Yes, horror films have been using the combination of shadows and darkness ever since the genre existed, but it all feels a bit too dark in this movie. The darkness certainly diminishes Pooh's goriest kills and the beautiful costume designs, which is a shame as the improvements are certainly worth the watch.

No one would have thought Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey would get a sequel, but here we are. Frake-Waterfield took the opportunity with both hands and ran away with it. While Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 is far from perfect – there are still too many tonal shifts and not enough light – it's a camp, gross-out and forceful slasher that guarantees a fun and entertaining time at your local cinema.

Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 is out now in cinemas