Winnie-the-Pooh : Blood and Honey 2

Winnie-the-Pooh : Blood and Honey 2
Original title:Winnie-the-Pooh : Blood and Honey 2
Director:Rhys Frake-Waterfield
Running time:94 minutes
Release date:26 march 2024
Deep in the 100-acre forest, a destructive rage grips Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Owl and Tigger, who find their home and lives threatened after Christopher Robin reveals their existence. No longer willing to live in the shadows, the group decides to take the fight to Christopher Robin's home town of Ashdown, leaving a bloody trail of death and mayhem in their wake. Winnie and her wild friends will show everyone that they are more deadly, stronger and smarter than anyone could imagine, and take their revenge on Christopher Robin, once and for all.

Mulder's Review

Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2, directed by Rhys Frake-Waterfield and written by Matt Leslie, continues the dark reimagining of A.A. Milne's beloved characters with a bigger budget and greater ambitions. Picking up where the first film left off, this sequel dives deeper into the psychological and monstrous elements of the story, bringing Christopher Robin (Scott Chambers) back to center stage as he grapples with his traumatic past and the lingering threat of his childhood friends-turned-killers.

The film opens with Christopher Robin, now an outcast in the town of Ashdown, dealing with the fallout from the Hundred Acres massacre. Many locals hold him responsible for the deaths, believing he invented the story of murderous anthropomorphic creatures. The sequel focuses on Christopher's attempts to overcome his trauma, including therapy sessions that reveal repressed memories and hint at the origins of Winnie the Pooh and his gang.

Scott Chambers, reprising the role of Christopher Robin, delivers a convincing performance that anchors the film. His performance captures the character's vulnerability and determination, making him a sympathetic figure in the midst of the chaos. The supporting cast, including Tallulah Evans as Lexy and Marcus Massey as the ominous Owl, also enhance the film with strong performances. Thea Evans, as Christopher's younger sister Bunny, brings a chilling innocence that contrasts sharply with the film's ferocious violence.

Visually, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 benefits considerably from its higher budget. The creatures drawn by Shaune Harrison are far more sophisticated and terrifying, transforming Pooh, Piglet, Owl and Tiger into truly nightmarish characters. These improvements are complemented by Paula Anne Booker's special effects, which create a constantly tense, claustrophobic atmosphere. However, the film suffers from uneven lighting, with some scenes either overexposed or frustratingly dark, detracting from the overall visual coherence. Likewise, it's clear that the director doesn't always have the financial means to stage certain scenes, such as the mass slaughter at a rave Winnie the Pooh attends.

The sequel attempts to expand the universe introduced in the first film, incorporating a richer backstory for the monstrous characters. It hints at a dark secret from Christopher's past, involving a scientist and DNA splicing experiments, drawing parallels with classic horror stories such as Frankenstein and The Island of Doctor Moreau. This plot adds a layer of complexity and provides a more solid foundation for the horror elements. However, the execution sometimes feels disjointed, with the story sometimes getting bogged down in exposition. Once again, the director is hampered by a lack of financial resources, despite his excellent concept.

Despite these narrative ambitions, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 remains firmly rooted in its slasher origins. The film features numerous bloody scenes that will satisfy fans of the genre. The murder scenes are inventive and brutal, using practical effects to create some truly horrific moments. The rave sequence, where Pooh and Tigger go on a rampage against unsuspecting revelers, stands out for its audacity and bloody mayhem. However, the film's heavy use of graphic violence, particularly against women, continues to provoke controversy. The misogynistic undertones detract from the overall experience, making it difficult to fully endorse the film despite its technical improvements. This aspect of the film feels dated and unnecessary, overshadowing the more innovative elements of the story.

One of the most interesting aspects of the film is its meta-narrative. Acknowledging the first film as an in-universe adaptation of Christopher's experiences, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 adds a layer of self-awareness that occasionally lightens its otherwise sinister tone. This approach allows for intelligent commentary on the nature of horror stories and the commodification of trauma, though it's not explored as fully as it could be. Andrew Scott Bell's music deserves special mention for its role in enhancing the film's atmosphere. The music effectively heightens the tension and complements the film's darker moments, helping to create a more immersive experience. Cinematography, when not hampered by lighting issues, also contributes to the film's dark aesthetic, with beautifully composed shots that contrast the serene backdrop of the Hundred Acre Wood with the horrific events that unfold there.

Despite these strengths, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 is not without its faults. The script, though more coherent than that of its predecessor, still suffers from a lack of pace and occasionally clumsy dialogue. Some of the plot twists, particularly those linked to Christopher's past, seem contrived and fail to deliver the expected shock. The film's tendency to take itself too seriously compromises the potential for dark humor that might have made the absurd premise more palatable. We'd have liked to see more nods to cult shasher films such as Freddy the 13th, Freddy Krueger and Leatherface.

Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 represents a significant improvement on the original in terms of production quality, performances and narrative depth. However, its reliance on gratuitous violence and lack of tonal balance prevent it from realizing its full potential. The film succeeds in pushing the boundaries of horror by transforming beloved childhood characters into figures of terror, but it also highlights the challenges of sustaining such a concept over several episodes. What's more, the director's style is far from that of Sam Raimi's earlier work, and we'd have liked to see horror scenes filmed with more originality and less of a desire to resemble those of '80s Slashers. As the director looks to expand the Winnie-the-Pooh universe, he would do well to refine his narrative and strike a better balance between horror and dark humor.

Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2
Directed by Rhys Frake-Waterfield
Written by Matt Leslie
Story by Rhys Frake-Waterfield, Matt Leslie
Based on Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne, E. H. Shepard
Produced by Rhys Frake-Waterfield, Scott Jeffrey
Starring Scott Chambers, Tallulah Evans, Ryan Oliva, Teresa Banham, Peter DeSouza-Feighoney, Alec Newman, Simon Callow
Cinematography : Vince Knight
Edited by Dan Allen, Rhys Frake-Waterfield
Music by Andrew Scott Bell
Production companies : ITN Distribution, Jagged Edge Productions
Distributed by Altitude Film Distribution
Release dates : 18 March 2024 (London), 26 March 2024 (United States)
Running time : 94 minutes

Viewed on June 27, 2024 (VOD)

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