On January 1, 2022 the 1926 book “Winnie-the-Pooh” entered the public domain in the United States. In May of 2022 it was announced that an independent slasher starring the beloved children’s character Winnie-the-Pooh had been filmed, where the titular Pooh was now a feral monster on a killing spree. This week I paid for and sat through this movie. All I asked was that it be fun. And it’s not awful. In fact, the premise is quite good. But on a technical level, “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” is a hot, sticky mess.
First, the good stuff. The introduction revolves around Christopher Robin and the entire Hundred Acre Woods crew (expect for Tigger, since Disney still owns the rights to the name and likeness). One day, Christopher leaves for college and Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit and Owl feel abandoned. They don’t know what to do with themselves and at one point begin to starve and must eat Eeyore in order to survive. After that, they feel irreversibly betrayed by Christopher and vow to kill any human who enters their path. To make things even better (for those who are as into this premise as I am) this introduction, taking place within the first few minutes of the movie, is told entirely in an almost Frank Miller inspired black and white animated montage; with full proper British narration. In this animated sequence, while short and sadly the only aspect of this movie that I would say is rewatchable, I immediately caught a glimpse of the shockingly high potential that a film like “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” had.
Now, the rest of the movie, which is a live-action straight-forward slasher, sees a group of female friends travel to a vacation cottage near the Hundred Acre Woods, where they are subsequently terrorized by a bloodthirsty Pooh and Piglet. This “rest of the movie” also leads me to why this movie doesn’t work.
Writer/director Rhys Frake-Waterfield wanted this to be “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” or “Friday the 13th” so badly. He just didn’t have the technical abilities to pull it off. Many of your favorite slasher movies are considered “low-budget”. And while “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” is admittedly lower budget than most modern slashers, it fails on three aspects that are all the result of bad filmmaking and thus render most of the movie unwatchable. First, the sound mix is poor. As the action commences, it is accompanied by a very standard horror score. The problem is, the score is louder than any actor speaking. So, for about thirty minutes of this movie it’s nearly impossible to hear what anyone is saying. Now, it’s a slasher, so the dialogue may not matter. But what does matter is the lighting. As soon as it becomes dark and the characters make their way outside, everything becomes hard to see. So, for many of the chase sequences, it’s a struggle to know who is where and if they are getting away or not. But none of that is as big of a problem as the movie’s most egregious flaw. It seems that nobody on set knew how to film a murder. Many independent slashers have done a great job of filming murder sequences using camera tricks to hide that fact that they lacked a budget to recreate the visuals necessary. What ‘Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” suffers from is a lack of talent and experience behind the camera. Any practical effects, when used, were poorly filmed. And many kills not relying on gore are presented in a way that will leave audiences confused as to whether the person murdered is dead or even hurt at all. This aspect is only compounded by that fact that a few of these kills had halfway decent set-ups. But when you know that the kills are going to continuously result in the least satisfying outcomes, after a few of them you cease to be invested in anything happening on-screen.
Final Thought: The pre-production of “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” is a far more interesting thing to talk about than the movie itself. That said, get a better director and someone who knows their way around practical effects for the sequel, and I’m definitely here for that.
Follow me on Twitter @moviesmarkus and on Instagram @moviesmarkus1