For the past few years, horror filmmakers have been dipping into children’s intellectual properties to find the next trend. To date, we’ve gotten two slashers re-imagining the animatronic characters of family restaurants – Willy’s Wonderland and The Banana Splits. And Five Nights at Freddy’s is due later this year. Early in 2022, Disney’s exclusive copyright over A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard’s Winnie-the-Pooh characters lapsed and the original source material entered public domain. Naturally the announcement that someone was turning the Hundred Acre Woods characters into homicidal maniacs in a slasher movie sparked controversy. As it turns out, the movie itself, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey, probably wasn’t worth all the hype.
For years, a young Christopher Robin has loved and shared adventures with the anthropomorphic animals of Hundred Acre Wood. But when Christopher grows up and leaves for university, his woodland friends face starvation and loneliness. Feeling abandoned and enraged, Pooh Bear and Piglet become feral and swear vengeance against humanity. When Christopher and others return to Hundred Acre Wood, they find horror has replaced childhood dreams.
Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey an Ugly, Dull, and Unimaginative Slasher
If the premise here seems immediately dumb, pause for a moment to re-consider. Plenty of horror-comedies have mined silly concepts for dark humor and over-the-top horror craziness. The key difference between those horror-comedies and Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey is that those movies knew what they were and settled on the right tone. Some critics have focused on Blood and Honey’s small budget. But slasher movies have rarely succeeded or failed based on their budget. No, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey is a bad movie because writer and director Rhys Frake-Waterfield completely misunderstood the assignment. A movie about a homicidal Pooh Bear and Piglet should be firmly tongue-in-cheek and knee deep in dark humor.
…Frake-Waterfield never really tapes into the irony of beloved children’s characters turning into blood-hungry killers.
Instead, Frake-Waterfield has made an ugly movie – aesthetically and tonally – that’s never in on the joke. For the most part, you could switch out Pooh Bear and Piglet for any random masked psychopath and the end result would be similar. That is, Frake-Waterfield never really tapes into the irony of beloved children’s characters turning into blood-hungry killers. Everything about this slasher is dull and unimaginative. Neither scary nor humorous, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey is often boring. And bad movies can’t afford to be boring. There’s also a fine line between inventive slasher kills and plain ugly violence – something this slasher never understands.
Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey an Aimless Slasher with Forgettable Characters
Even by slasher movie standards, Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey has a pretty thin story. Apparently, little thought was put into this one beyond its premise. After a promising animated opening that recounts the characters’ descent into bloodlust, Frake-Waterfield kind of puts the story on autopilot. Most of this slasher feels like a series of disconnected scenes. From a narrative perspective, the common threads are the killers themselves and the same visually ugly tone. We get a generic backstory for one character about a past stalking incident that barely factors into the movie.
Most of this slasher feels like a series of disconnected scenes.
Aside from this plot point, little effort is spent on distinguishing amongst characters not named ‘Christopher Robin’. When a group of would-be victims decide to split up, you’re not likely to really care anymore about names and personalities. None of the performances rise above wooden either. For this sort of movie, no one’s looking for Oscar-worthy turns but Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey has a few cringeworthy performances. Yet the biggest problem here is just how little the title characters register in their own movie.
Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey Doesn’t Even Earn Guilty Pleasure Status
Bottom line, Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey is a really bad movie. And no, it’s not a ‘guilty pleasure’ kind of bad. How Rhys Frake-Waterfield botched this assignment is a bit of a headscratcher. Though it’s an indie slasher, the budget here is more than enough to deliver on some over-the-top gore and silly slasher humor. After all, it’s slasher about a homicidal Pooh Bear and Piglet. Simply put, Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey should be a self-aware horror comedy that never takes itself seriously. Instead, it’s a dull, ugly looking movie punctuated by poor performances and an almost non-existent story. If you can get through this slag, good news – a sequel is coming.