Any moviegoer approaching a film entitled something as ridiculous as WINNIE THE POOH: BLOOD AND HONEY with even a scrap of serious cinematic intention deserves to be sour about their experience. The movie, written and directed by Rhys Frank-Waterfield, and inspired by the beloved children’s books by A. A. Milne, is a disaster. It’s silly, poorly filmed, atrociously-acted, embarrassingly edited, scored ridiculously, and frankly a complete insult to money-paying audiences everywhere. It’s the kind of horror movie you wish were either a little worse or much, much better. However, when approaching it at face value, there’s at least a little fun to be had.
Utilizing public domain laws, the film follows the recent trend of getting around copyright legalities to retell cherished children’s tales as grisly, gross, slasher movies. In 2022 we were subjected to the mind-bogglingly droll horror parody THE MEAN ONE (based on Dr. Seuss’ HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS), which couldn’t even be saved by the immensely talented David Howard Thornton (TERRIFIER) in the title role. The next couple of years will bring us horror adaptations of BAMBI and PETER PAN, not to mention a recently-announced BLOOD AND HONEY sequel. It’s clear these movies rely solely on their clickbaitability and have no real passion for clever filmmaking or satisfying storytelling. It’s a tacky money grab. And I fell for it.
The movie tells the tale of Christopher Robin’s anthropomorphic animal pals after he’s grown up and moved on. A brief, crudely-animated prologue sets up what might have been an acceptable premise, but this sequence is the first and only reference to the source material we see. The rest of the film could very easily be copied and pasted into any no-budget, Z-list, direct-to-VOD slasher movie you can only find in the deepest depths of Tubi.
Commenting on the acting in this film is futile. Nikolai Leon, as Christopher Robin, serves only as a setup for the sequel, while Final Girl Maria (MARIA TAYLOR) is as milquetoast and nondescript as the six other run-of-the-mill, nearly identical white women running around screaming by her side. Her backstory serves solely as filler, an attempt to bring the script up to feature length (barely so, at 84 minutes). Paula Coiz, as Christopher’s wife, Mary, doesn’t stand a chance against her cringy, forced dialogue.
Blood and gore are plentiful and, in some cases, effective. However, the film is so dark, and the cinematography is so all over the place it’s barely visible. And let me say this once and for all: CGI BLOOD HAS NEVER AND WILL NEVER LOOK GOOD IN A LOW-BUDGET HORROR MOVIE! Stop trying it.
Makeup appliances for the film’s two iconic killers, Pooh (Craig David Dowsett) and Piglet (Chris Cordell), are laughable. Offering absolutely no articulation whatsoever and only the faintest hint of the actor’s eyes, these terrible creatures look like men in bulky rubber masks who raided the rejected costumes of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 & THE HILLS HAVE EYES. Their silhouettes are far too similar, with overweight bodies and ears on top of bald heads. In darker shots (which is most of the film), they are practically indistinguishable from one another. It’s a head-scratching anomaly that, despite being showcased in the prologue, Rabbit, and Owl make no appearance for the rest of the film. I guess I’ll wait for the sequel. Maybe. I haven’t decided yet. (Tigger was excluded entirely as his character hasn’t yet entered into the public domain and to avoid a lawsuit from Disney, who’s owned their complicated share of the property since 1966.)
It’s a real disappointment that this filmmaking trend relies solely on the title values of the properties they’re ripping off and not actually doing any work to make these adaptations creative or enjoyable.
And yet, despite my scathing review, I found myself having fun watching it. I blame the environment. I knew this was a movie I needed to see in a theater with an audience full of rowdy Saturday night moviegoers, and thank goodness I did. After this brief theatrical run, the film will no doubt move to VOD and streaming, and, frankly, I doubt I’d have paid any attention to it at all if given the temptation of a scroll through my phone or the ability to pick up the remote and change the channel.
If your conscience can live with giving these filmmaking hacks your money, see it in a crowded theater before it’s too late.
WINNIE THE POOH: BLOOD AND HONEY is available in limited movie theaters.