Film reviews and more since 2009

Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 (2024) review

Dir. Rhys Frake-Waterfield

By: Steve Pulaski

Rating: ★½

If you decided to see (or perhaps “bear” witness) to Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 in theaters for its multiday-run via Fathom Events, you were treated to a pre-movie dialog between director Rhys Frake-Waterfield and actor Scott Chambers. The first film might’ve benefited from a brief introduction of this kind. The collaborators are exuberant and boyishly giddy that their silly, cocktail-napkin idea of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends turning murderous mere seconds after entering the public domain has come to fruition not once, but twice.

They are so ambitious in their exploits that they spend the bulk of this prerecorded introduction not promoting the film you’re about to see, but talking about their devilish plans for other newly public domain characters, such as Pinocchio, Bambi, Peter Pan, and eventually, every one of them all at once in Poohniverse: Monsters Assemble.

Time will tell if these other projects in the “Twisted Childhood Universe” will materialize. Let’s focus on Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2, which is an improvement over its cheap and frankly joyless predecessor.

With a substantially larger budget, a richer storyline, and settings that go beyond the Hundred Acre Wood, this sequel makes the original Blood and Honey look like a scuzzy proof-of-concept. The costumes are better; for starters, Winnie-the-Pooh looks like a legitimately terrifying creature as opposed to a man in a mask. Owl takes to the sky like the Creeper in one of my favorite contemporary horror series. There’s even a joke revolving around Poohsticks, showing the crew was brave enough to have more fun with this go-round.

The jury is still out on whether or not the first film did damage to the hoop dreams of its creators. Will people even show up or bother to care after the highly anticipated jolt of nightmare fuel barely qualified as a fever dream?

Through Milne-esque illustrations, this sequel begins by explaining that since the first film, both Winnie-the-Pooh (Ryan Oliva) and Christopher Robin (Chambers) have become ostracized by their hometown of Ashdown. The community believes that Christopher was behind the Hundred-Acre Massacre, as opposed to Winnie and Piglet. Enter Owl (Marcus Massey), who believes that the woodland creatures should extend their slayings beyond the woods and into the suburbs of Ashdown as Christopher tries but mostly fails to rebuild his life with his parents, sorta-girlfriend (Tallulah Evans), and younger sister (Nicola Wright).

At the same time a low-rent horror movie is made about the Hundred-Acre Massacre (it’s actually the first Blood and Honey movie) is when Christopher starts to be haunted by his past. He visits a therapist and recalls vivid dreams about his brother, who disappeared at a young age. He tries to make sense of these dreams just as Winnie, Owl, and even Tigger (Lewis Santer) begin their reign of terror on the town of Ashdown.

Naturally, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 invites childhood trauma into its story, as that is apparently the only acceptable theme to explore in contemporary horror movies. It amounts to something because Chambers, who replaces Nikolai Leon as Christopher Robin in a way that recalls the recasting of Marty in Shiloh 2: Shiloh Season, plays a believable victim. And yet, the midsection of the film is rendered flabby thanks to its reliance on disjointed nightmares, as well as a lengthy monologue from Simon Callow’s Cavendish character, which goes nowhere (at least for now).

That said, there’s an attempt by screenwriter Matt Leslie to gift this material something of a purpose. It also makes Blood and Honey 2‘s climax hit harder. The third act is set at a rave, where things get bloody rather quickly. As soon as Tigger is introduced, the film takes on an entirely different level of mayhem. Through all the bloody, brutal, and joyously practical kills, the best of the series at this point might be Tigger scratching and clawing a female raver to the bone. She’s wearing fake, feathery wings, and the ensuing scene has fur and feathers flying while Santer imitates Tigger’s gruff-yet-lispy drawl. It’s the stuff of nightmares. It’s the stuff we sickos demand of this material.

Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 very much feels like the film director Rhys Frake-Waterfield initially wanted to make, but didn’t have the funds. Like you, I cannot get back the 85-someodd minutes I lost watching that film. That said, this follow-up is worth your attention, should you still have an appetite for seeing the grotesque perversion of your childhood characters on the big screen.

My review of Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey

NOTE: Following its brief theatrical run, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 should hit VOD sometime in summer 2024.

Starring: Scott Chambers, Tallulah Evans, Ryan Oliva, Marcus Massey, Eddy MacKenzie, Lewis Santer, Teresa Banham, Peter DeSouza-Feighoney, Alec Newman, and Simon Callow. Directed by: Rhys Frake-Waterfield.

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About Steve Pulaski

Steve Pulaski has been reviewing movies since 2009 for a barrage of different outlets. He graduated North Central College in 2018 and currently works as an on-air radio personality. He also hosts a weekly movie podcast called "Sleepless with Steve," dedicated to film and the film industry, on his YouTube channel. In addition to writing, he's a die-hard Chicago Bears fan and has two cats, appropriately named Siskel and Ebert!

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