Honeydew (2021) review

By David Dent

Chalk and cheese couple Rylie (Malin Barr) and Sam (Sawyer Spielberg, Steven’s son) are out camping in the New England woods. Rylie has a Botany doctorate, and is carrying out some research into Sordico, a kind of fungal contamination that lives on wheat and has found its way into bread, causing gangrenous and convulsive side effects for those who consume it. Sam is an actor, trying to learn the lines for a part, reading his words aloud from a fairly crummy script.

Booted off the site where they have made camp, and with no GPS coverage, their woes continue when their truck fails to start. They happen across a farmhouse owned by kindly Karen (Barbara Kingsley) who lives with her immobile obese son Gunni (Jamie Bradley). On the promise of a tow truck ride to get their truck fixed, Ryle and Sam agree to spend the night in the basement, and after being offered some weird (and possibly infected) food, their lives are thrown into a nightmare of increasing grotesquery.

There is something beautifully unhinged about ‘Honeydew’, considering that its premise may seem overfamiliar; couple lost in the woods, a cabin in the middle of nowhere, and a bizarre family. Nothing really happens in the movie and indeed when things occasionally do happen it’s difficult to work out what’s going on. Barr and Spielberg play the only two straightforward characters in the piece, while all around them are dribbling fools, inane grinning women…and worse. John Mehrmann’s abrasive, chilling soundtrack complements the sickly visuals perfectly, as the fungus takes hold and reality slips away.

I’m still not sure what’s going on in Devereux Milburn’s debut feature; it’s a strange beast indeed, and it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved it.

Signature Entertainment presents Honeydew on Digital Platforms 29th March.

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