Dir. Rhys Frake-Waterfield (2023)
Winnie the Pooh and Piglet go on a hunt for new food after Christopher Robin leaves them to go off to college.
Every so often a horror movie will break through to the mainstream, permeating pop culture in a way that allows it to reach an audience that may otherwise never have even heard of it. When Winnie-the-Pooh, the classic character from writer A. A. Milne's 1926's classic collection of stories, entered the public domain, it was only a matter of time before someone used it for some funky shit. And, as the horror genre tends to take advantage of every trend possible in creating an innovative crowd-pleaser, it's not surprising that director Rhys Frake-Waterfield rushed the first Winnie slasher to market. Thankfully, it doesn't take a lot to make the horror audience happy, and slasher fans flocked to theaters to check out this bizarre take on the vintage tale of imaginary friends from the 100 Acre Woods.
Christopher Robin has gone off to med school, leaving the group of mutants who were once his childhood friends to fend for themselves. Without his guidance and the sustenance that he brought them, the creatures turn feral, killing one of their own for food and eventually taking humans captive in order to stay alive. Christopher Robin returns to 100 Acre Woods to introduce his fiancee to his childhood friends, he finds a pair of creatures who were very different than he remembered, and they immediately kill his bride and take him captive. When a group of young adults take a vacation into the woods to support one of their own, Winnie and Piglet have found a new source of food and begin hunting them one by one.
It's stupid, right? It's a dumb idea, one that feels disrespectful to the century of children's content that has come before it, right? Ok, cool. We have acknowledged that line of thinking and can now summarily dismiss it as having been acknowledged. In reality, "should" is not something that should ever be part of a discussion about any art, much less the ones created through avenues that have historically been off-kilter and innovative. Horror is all about creativity, and making a film about a children's story is no different than the hundreds of good films that have been made from myths, legends, and fairy tales before. Simply stating that this film "should" not have been made is lazy and obtuse, critique for the lowest common denominator from the lowest form of art critic.
That said, Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey is not a good movie. Not by any means. It's hardly aiming for that, however: this is a movie designed to make money by becoming a cookie cutter slasher movie, with the twist that the killers are based on characters you already know and probably love. It's a prototypical slasher film, featuring brutal kills, stalking killers, and some unintentional hilarity. If that's not your bag, this film wouldn't have been for you regardless. Chances are, however, if you're reading this, it is exactly your bag, and this film will be almost exactly what you had hoped it would be.
Blood and Honey is dumb fun, a popcorn slasher flick that has the guts to be as crude and crass as it needs to be to accomplish its goals. It is also, unfortunately, quite boring for most of its runtime. The kills are great and make the whole thing worth watching, but the actual plot largely involves these monstrous beings walking slowly around someone's property as those caught inside ramble in British dialects and try (but not very hard) to escape their tormentors. Had they upped the body count, tried to establish a cognizant lore, or even attempted to cross into horror-comedy territory, the film as a whole would've been much better off.
Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey is not, perhaps, what it should be. It's self-aware but doesn't do the most with what it has going for it, a clear cash grab that fails to be as funny (or as scary) as it should be. Horror fans would have much preferred a bonkers horror comedy that feels more Troma than Miramax. Instead, Blood and Honey takes itself too seriously, seeking to become a gritty and mean-spirited slasher instead of the conscious and bizarre spectacle it should've been. It fails at being serious because it is incapable of being serious, and it is a big miss despite its possibilities.
Who this movie is for: Slasher fans, Dumb horror lovers, Imaginary friends
Bottom line: Despite being profitable and (likely) leading to multiple attempts at monetizing children's classics in the horror genre, Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey is a failure at what matters most: being a good horror flick. While that standard is a hell of a lot lower than it is for other genres, it never meets it anyway. It is, however, a brutal and fun flick if you don't mind fast-forwarding through a lot of walking around to get to the (admittedly) excellent kills. It's streaming on Peacock if you want to check it out for yourself.