REVIEW: “Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey” (2023)

Following its announcement, I’m guessing “Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey” prompted a slew of different reactions from belly-laughs to eye-rolls. I can see some immediately hopping onboard while others instantly checked out. And I bet there were just as many (myself included) left scratching their heads. Well, I can honestly say that after watching this baffling concoction I’m still scratching my head.

So how did this movie come about? On January 1, 2022, A. A. Milne and E. H. Shepard’s 1926 Winnie-the-Pooh book entered the public domain. Previously the rights had been owned by Disney since 1966. Disney was able to retain the character likenesses they created, but the actual characters themselves (Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Owl, Rabbit, etc.) went into the public domain. So what was the first thing someone immediately did? Why turn the beloved children’s characters into deranged homicidal maniacs of course.

Now at first glance “Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey” resembled the kind of self-aware grindhouse schlock I could get behind. It opens with some promise both in its embrace of its patently silly premise and its willingness to poke fun at the slasher genre. But it quickly runs its central conceit into the ground, and it gets increasingly harder to separate the jokes from more serious scenes that happen to be really bad. And it doesn’t help that the movie is such a technical mess.

Image Courtesy of Altitude Film Distribution

That’s hard for me to say, especially as someone who loves watching talented filmmakers, old and new, do incredible things with minuscule budgets. But here, everything is sub-par. The cinematography is bad. The editing is bad. The sound is bad. The lighting is bad. Again, budget constraints should always be considered. But when the characters speak so low we can’t hear them, or the lighting is so dim we can’t make out what’s going on, or the camera is shaking so much we can’t follow the action, or the cuts either come too quick or leave us stuck on a scene way too long, it makes for an exploitation film of the lowest order.

If anything, director, writer, and producer Rhys Frake-Waterfield certainly seized an opportunity when he saw it. I mean countless filmmakers with original ideas struggle to find a screen for their work, especially in the horror genre. But Frake-Waterfield takes anthropomorphic animals from countless childhoods and turns them into Leatherface knock-offs and is able to nab a big screen “event”. That’s more impressive than anything in the actual movie.

As for the story, the amusing setup goes something like this: Years ago a young boy named Christopher Robin met and befriended the walking and talking Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Owl, and Rabbit inside the Hundred Acre Wood. Christopher fed them, played with them, and essentially grew up with them. They were his closest friends.

As he got older, the time came for Christopher Robin to head off to college. But with CR no longer there to feed and care for them, his animal friends began to starve. Desperate for food, they killed and ate Eeyore which pushed them over the edge. Enraged, Pooh, Piglet, Owl, and Rabbit formed a pact. They renounced their human side and swore never to talk again. Instead they went back to their animalistic roots. After five years away Christopher Robin (Nikolai Leon) returns, anxious to introduce his new fiancée Mary (Paula Coiz) to his old friends. But rather than a warm reunion, they are savagely attacked by a feral Pooh (Craig David Dowsett) and Piglet (Chris Cordell).

Image Courtesy of Altitude Film Distribution

Jump ahead a couple of years and we meet Maria (Maria Taylor) a young woman dealing with a trauma that the movie never seems all that interested in. Her therapist recommends she takes some time away to “disconnect”. So she and four girlfriends from college rent a two-story cabin deep in the Hundred Acre Wood, apparently within shouting distance of the vengeful, murderous Pooh and Piglet’s place (there are so many obvious questions about this scenario, but don’t expect any answers).

I shouldn’t have to tell you where things go from there. Yes Pooh, with his overalls and beer-gut, and Piglet, with his bad leg and sadistic love for chains, terrorize the young women, picking them off one by one in a number of grisly ways. And it isn’t that hard. Their victims are way too stupid to stand a chance, leading to a handful of laughs – some intentional but more that aren’t. Even calling them characters seems a stretch. They’re thinly sketched and the movie clearly doesn’t care about them so why should we?

To the film’s credit, the audience I watched it with seemed to have a good time (although I’m pretty sure they were laughing more AT the movie than WITH it). Clearly a big chunk of the budget went into the over-the-top gory kills which can be fun (when we’re able to make them out). But it’s one thing to spoof dumb and chintzy slasher movies. It’s another thing to become one. And it’s one thing to revisit your one big gag. It’s another thing to milk it dry before your movie is half over. Just more things to add to a laundry list of problems that make this potential romp feel like a dirt-cheap cash grab.


11 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey” (2023)

  1. I really feel like I am going to destroy this thing with the wrath of ten thousand suns when I get to it. I don’t know this guy but I already think he’s a hack for choosing this IP to just totally destroy.

    I hardly think most things are so sacred they shouldn’t be parodied or mocked, but this sounds like it goes about as poorly as the first teases we saw last year. This reeks of opportunism without the necessary follow-through to make the opportunity worth it.

    • Man, you’re spot-on. I feels every bit of an opportunistic cash-grab. And I’m like you when it comes to holding our entertainment sacred. In fact, there are hints of something pretty funny early on. But it quickly and clearly becomes evident what this is. And talk about horribly made! Ughhh

  2. Yeah, I can’t watch shit like this. I’m not into this kind of murder-porn as I read a lot about this film and I don’t want to see it. I think I would rather have Pooh as this moronic stuffed bear with serious addiction issues to honey.

    BTW, I won’t be reading your review of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania until Sunday after I see the film just to avoid major spoilers (a few of which I predicted) as I’m going in with LOW expectations.

  3. This is a movie for those of us true horror fans. The ones that love that hidden gem that nobody moves, the one that use to set on a video rental shelves covered in dust, that you take a chance on, and fall in love with the lowly little B movie. This is for the horror fan, who wants to be entertained, not have to sit and think. It is for the fan who wants their child hood upended and just have a fun time watching a movie that is not for the general public, it is a love letter to the childhoods’ of true genre fans.

      • Oh no doubt, the masks are from Immortal, but it was still fun. It’s not The Exorcist, or even, maybe Trolls, (not Trolls 2) the plot is weak, the acting is weak, but it turned childhood nightmares to life. What if my Winnie the Pooh came to life while I slept, or do they get pissed when I go on vacation as a child and they are left alone. It was just a fun watch. There is nothing new in it this film, no ground breaking cinematic advancement; just a goofy gory film.

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