Tuesday 21 March 2023

REVIEW: Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey (2023) - Starring Craig David Dowsett, Chris Cordell and Nikolai Leon

Review by Jon Donnis
I heard about this film a while back and was intrigued. With the first Winnie the Pooh book having gone into public domain in the US on 1 January 2022, it means that the characters are no longer under strict ownership, so anyone can use them. So what better way to use such beloved children's characters than to have them as evil murderous monsters!

Years ago, a young Christopher Robin made friends with a group of anthropomorphic creatures in the Hundred Acre Wood, including Winnie-the-Pooh (Craig David Dowsett), Piglet (Chris Cordell), Eeyore, Rabbit, and Owl. When Christopher went to college, he stopped visiting, leaving his animal friends to fend for themselves. With winter approaching, and without Christopher's guidance, the animals were unable to find food and resorted to extreme measures, killing and eating Eeyore. This traumatic event caused the group to develop a deep hatred for humanity and Christopher for abandoning them. They made a pact to abandon their humanity and return to their feral instincts, vowing never to speak again.

Years later, Christopher (Nikolai Leon) and his girlfriend/wife (not sure which), Mary (Paula Coiz), return to the Hundred Acre Wood to reunite with his old friends, Christopher has told Mary about his childhood friends, but she just believes them to be imagined. However, they find the place in a desolate state. Despite Mary's warnings to leave, Christopher continues to investigate and is attacked by an adult sized Piglet, who strangles Mary to death with a chain. Pooh and Piglet then drag Christopher back into the woods.

Later, a group of university students, Maria (Maria Taylor), Jess (Natasha Rose Mills), Alice (Amber Doig-Thorne), Zoe (Danielle Ronald), and Lara (Natasha Tosini), rent a cabin in the Hundred Acre Wood at the suggestion of Maria's therapist. Tina, one of Maria's friends, gets lost on the way to the cabin and is chased by Pooh into an abandoned factory, where he kills her with a woodchipper. Meanwhile, Christopher is being held prisoner by Pooh in his treehouse, where he s brutally whipped with Eeyore's tail. Christopher sees Mary's corpse in the corner of the room, and Pooh showers him with her blood.

As you can tell this is not your classic Christopher Robin and Pooh tale. Made on a budget of just £100,000 and shot in just 10 days, this is an interesting little horror film.

This is a straight forward horror film, not a comedy. It reminded me in parts of the Friday the 13th films, in the way that you have young people being picked off by a seemingly unstoppable killer.

There is also some nice animation to tell some parts of the story, this is a nice touch that not only saves them a lot of money, but gives the film an extra creepy feel.

The Good
Pooh is the main killer in this film, and he gets to perform some imaginative kills, which is what you want. Despite the low budget, the filmmakers have done a good job with the set pieces, the visual effects and the general atmosphere of the film, it can be a bit dark at times, but that is understandable, as is an easy way to cover up some of the budgetary restraints.

Nikolai Leon is convincing as the adult Christopher Robin, and they left enough open at the end for a sequel.

I also think it is worth mentioning how refreshing it is to hear some regional accents in a film, I am not sure how ad libbed the film is, but some of the dialog came across as very real.

With a run time of about 82 minutes, it is the perfect length.

The Bad
As mentioned, the film is a little dark at times, and it is hard to see what is going on. It is pretty obvious that Piglet and Pooh are just men in suits with masks on, but there is an effort to make them look somewhat realistic, but with the budget being what it is, it is obviously hard to pull that off.

I thought this was a decent little horror film, and when you consider the subject matter, and the budget, I thought they did an excellent job, pulling off a good little horror film. I am actually quite interested in if they do a sequel and if so I hope they have a larger budget.

I enjoyed this film. I like a good horror, this is British with a British cast, and should be applauded for doing a good job.

I score Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey a solid 7.5/10

Out now in Cinemas.

Pre-order on Home Entertainment or watch on Prime at https://amzn.to/3mZbckz