Tortured by the memory of a childhood trauma, a woman returns after a decade to her family’s fly-in hunting lodge to assist her siblings with their dying father, only to find herself stuck in a life threatening nightmare.
Blood Honey is a movie in desperate search of a reason to exist.The story of a seemingly coherent woman, returning to her family’s hunting lodge after years of isolation and repressed trauma, is lousy with atmosphere, loose-ended developments, and a hollow sense of urgency, leaving the viewer only mildly interested.
“Blood Honey, and that’s a great title by the way, derives from the peculiar hallucinogenic nectar produced by the bees on the island…”
Starting in a blue-toned flashback, we learn that poor Jenibel (Shenae Grimes-Beech) witnessed a horrible family tragedy on the banks of the island on which her family runs a fly-in hunting lodge in Canada. Returning after a 10-year absence, Jenibel is flying home on the news that her father Marvin (Gil Bellows) is on the verge of death. This should be a moment of closer as she arrives and is greeted by sister Linda (Krystal Hope Nausbaum) and strapping brother Nick (Kenneth Mitchell) who has taken over running the family lodge.
The title, Blood Honey, and that’s a great title by the way, derives from the peculiar hallucinogenic nectar produced by the bees on the island. As Jenibel settles in she realizes that things are not what they seem… of course. Or is it the effect of the honey?
Old flames are re-ignited, tragedy strikes again, and a whirlwind of family drama gets mucked up again as the fate of the family business hangs on the stability of its owners. Okay, but why the hell should I care? Up to this point I have been given no reason to like or even sympathize with Jenibel and her contrite demeanor, despite being a victim of obvious abuse. In fact, the only character worth examining is Linda played by Nausbaum, a down syndrome actor who really has a handle on what a person would be like, living on an isolated island with her haunting gaze and quieter moments.
The movie is not without technical merit, however as director Jeff Kopas has a firm handle on how to capture the stunning wilderness. Bare crags just from the lapping indigo water and the camera’s wide shots allow the audience to soak in the scenery. Thank god. The sound design here is also quite good picking up the nuances of the outdoors and the intimacy of a secluded cabin.
“Old flames are re-ignited, tragedy strikes again, and a whirlwind of family drama gets mucked up…”
But again, why should I care? As Jenibel makes herself at home there really isn’t anything out of the ordinary that would elicit a feeling of horror or even urgency. We have no reason to “save the cat” as it were. Mopy Jenibel wanders through existence, slowly introducing us to revelations about her past, and the inconsequential island dwellers surrounding her until there has to be some sort of an ending.
In order to tie everything together, Kopas and writer Doug Taylor devise a last-minute device that literally made me groan. GROAN I tell you. The film didn’t need a gimmicky button to close things out, it needed a compelling story to start with. No matter. I got to look at some beautiful photography by D. Gregor Hagey, so there are worse things.
Blood Honey (2017) Directed by Jeff Kopas. Written by Jeff Kopas, Doug Taylor. Starring Shenae Grimes-Beech, Gil Bellows, Kenneth Mitchell.
Blood Honey is worth VOD (**)
Norm’s Rating System: Full Price (****), Matinee (***), VOD (**), Don’t Bother (*)