Most folks are familiar with the characters that inhabit the Hundred Acre Wood. We’ve all read the stories or have seen the Disney adaptation and its many subsequent offerings. It’s a warm cuddly staple of our youth regardless of how twisted our film taste may be now. So when A.A. Milne’s novel Winnie the Pooh hit public domain in 2022 and a horror movie was announced, my small circle of horror friends were going nuts. A gory reimagining with Pooh as a villain? Oh the possibilities. Billed as a horror retelling of the legend of Winnie the Pooh, Rhys Frake-Waterfield’s Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey promises “This ain’t no bedtime story”.
As a boy, Christopher Robin (Nikolai Leon) meets and befriends a group of half-animal, half-human hybrids in the Hundred Acre Woods. After years of their adventures, Christopher leaves for college. When winter hits and things get tough, Pooh and his pals are forced to eat one their own. The trauma inflicted on them from eating poor little Eeyore pushed Pooh (Craig David Dowsett) and Piglet (Chris Cordell) to the brink of madness forcing them to reject humanity, becoming feral beasts with a hatred for all mankind…especially Christopher Robin.
In all honesty, I came into this with super low expectations. With a budget clocking in just below $100,000 and shot in 10 days, there’s really only so much that can be done. In my decades as a horror fan though I’ve seen fantastic things done with less so there was a sliver of hope. The characters Frake-Waterfield was working with, the potential is huge but I can’t help but feel like the opportunity was squandered. It started strong with some crude drawings depicting the events leading up to Pooh and pals’ descent to madness oozing an overall creepy vibe and setting the tone for things to come. Unfortunately, that’s where it went sideways for me. The rubber masks, creative as they were, had Pooh frozen in a silly rubber grin that elicited more laughs than general fear and the cliched attempts at horror tropes were laughable, mostly falling flat. This film was dark and I don’t mean that in a good way either. Almost every scene seemed like they shot it with minimal lighting. I don’t know if that was just for the aesthetics or to hide something.
With our anthropomorphic bear and pig donning overalls with boots, stalking unsuspecting victims and operating out of a kill shack reminiscent of Leatherface’s abode, this felt like someone took Texas Chainsaw Massacre & Winnie the Pooh mashing it up into a nonsensical string of incoherent scenes. There was a semblance of a plot but even that was super thin. Sometimes though, in certain circumstances, a genre film with very little story can be saved by some memorable kills but this one even failed at that. Every kill felt humorless and uninspired. Just vicious for vicious’ sake. Not a single character was memorable. The protagonists, if you can call them that, had zero personality and came across mostly as irritating. I don’t blame the actors though, it doesn’t seem like they had much to work with.
Now usually I try to find the good in a movie, even when I dislike it but I’m really struggling with this one. Every aspect of this flick from the shaky cinematography to the lackluster score, the paper-thin story down to the execution was just meh. It’s no wonder there wasn’t a critic screening for this one. It’s almost like they were trying to ride the internet hype without offering anything of substance like some genre films have been doing lately. But like I’ve said before, there’s always a fan somewhere and an audience for everything…I’m looking at you Skinamarink so this might be up your alley. Not me though. That took 84 minutes out of my day that I’ll never get back. Oh, and the credits promised “Pooh will be back” so apparently there’s a sequel in the works. One can only hope improvements will be made but I’m not going to hold my breath.
As of this writing, Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey can be found in a theater near you but unless you have some overwhelming urge I suggest you just wait for this one to hit the streaming services.