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Film Review: Winnie The Pooh: Blood and Honey

Image Courtesy of Jagged Edge Productions

By Josh Taylor

You may have heard about Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey. It became a viral conversation online in 2022. It was a film being made out of the classic A.A. Milne characters of the 100 Acre Wood as they were entering the public domain. Interestingly, that began an insane journey for writer/director Rhys Frake-Waterfield and his crew that resulted in reshoots, a move from video-on-demand to a theatrical release, and now what seems to be a worldwide tour for the cast and crew. A film with a budget of around $50,000 making this big of a splash in the film market doesn’t come around very often, but when it does it’s worth noting, and the question becomes: Does the film live up to its behind-the-scenes virality? Blood and Honey begins with animations and Christopher Robin looking to take his wife back to meet his friends from the 100 Acre Wood. What he doesn’t know is that they’ve changed and are not on the hunt for humans. The remainder of the film follows a group of women going on a retreat to get “off the grid”. They ditch their cell phones at the cabin they’ve rented and plan to just spend quality time together. Unfortunately, Pooh Bear and Piglet, the only two characters from the A.A. Milne stories (outside side of Christopher Robin) who have gone into the public domain, greet them with weaponry and brute strength.

Image Courtesy of Jagged Edge Productions

This film, on a very small budget, was impressive considering what the filmmakers were able to pull off. Several fun and interesting horror film visuals, an emotional score, and impressive cinematography all help create an enjoyable experience, especially in a theater full of people or a living room full of friends. This is the type of B-Horror film you’ll have a bit of fun laughing with as well as gasping at. I do wish that there were more deliberate demonstrations of comedy in order to make it clear that this film didn’t take itself too seriously. If this were a serious film about a mutant bear and pig going on a murder spree, I’d be much more critical. Not that I don’t think this film deserves some criticism. Like I said, I wish it would have had more comedy elements in order to make it a better viewing, especially solo, because this film would not be something I’d recommend to someone watching at home alone on a Saturday night. This feels like a film you want to watch with a group. The type of group that makes some snacks, cocktails, and is willing to emotionally react to the film in a not-so-serious manner.

Image Courtesy of Jagged Edge Productions

Script-wise, I do think that the story could have been more based on the A.A. Milne stories. I’d love to actually sit down and have a conversation with writer Frake-Waterfield about how the virality changed his story as it doesn’t feel like this film was initially intended to rely so heavily on the Winnie the Pooh characters. I could see it being originally written as a slasher film where the killers wear masks resembling the classic literary characters. Instead, the film identifies them as mutant creatures come to life, once friends with Christopher Robin, now on the hunt for blood. (Pooh I bought into, but Piglet looks more like Beebop from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles than the timid little sweater-wearing piglet.) Unfortunately, I think that premise requires a larger budget. Again, I don’t fault the costumed actors for doing what they could with the costumes and script they were given, but I think there was a different way to write a low budget horror film that would have worked, but also wouldn’t have revolved so heavily on the A.A. Milne characters being in a twist on the books. I will commend a majority of the cast for selling this story sincerely. There’s definitely some laughs to be had, but ultimately I did fear for the lives of the characters that came across our mutant literary friends. In particular I really thought lead actress Maria Taylor sold the horror and Craig David Dowsett’s version of Pooh Bear was menacing. What these actors went through to pull off this film also deserves reward. Between the weather conditions and crawling around in ripped clothing and mud, they continued to sell this story throughout the film’s 84 minute runtime.

Image Courtesy of Jagged Edge Productions

Discussions in a post-screening Q&A about a sequel were brought up, especially after the film has become a major hit against it’s budget. If there is to be a sequel, I’d love to see additional characters (Tigger enters public domain soon!) and an upgrade to the classic character costumes in order to sell the fact that these are the A.A. Milne characters. So, does the film live up to it’s virality? I guess it depends on what you are hoping for. This is a well shot film with a good musical score and decent enough acting from the entire cast with some definitive standouts. This is also the type of movie I would never watch alone at home, but rather as a reason to gather some friends to have a few drinks, laugh, and have a bit of cheeky fun with it. Ultimately I think the behind-the-scenes story is far more interesting than the film is, but with the budget they had and the unexpected chaos that surrounded it’s popularity long before it hit theaters, I think it does a fine job at being entertaining, just don’t expect any “Oh Bother” or “Silly Old Bear” lines. In fact, don’t expect much connection to the Milne books beyond the names of the characters and the setting of the 100 Acre Wood. Also, don’t be afraid to get a few friends together to be “silly old bears” yourselves.

Winnie The Pooh: Blood and Honey is now in theaters.


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