‘Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey’ Review: Nothing Sweet or Interesting in Genre Mash-Up

The film is so slapdash and incredibly cheap that it’s almost punk rock

"Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey"

It’s been over 60 years since Disney purchased the rights to A.A. Milne’s beloved children’s story “Winnie the Pooh” and transformed it into a multimedia cash cow and, frankly it’s never entirely sat right. Some of Disney’s “Winnie the Pooh” adaptations were lovely, but Milne’s tale about magical creatures in the 100 Acre Wood was ultimately a fable about letting go of childhood, not perpetually reliving it. If Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, and all their friends still exist then nobody learns anything.

It took long enough, but the first “Winnie the Pooh” book finally lapsed into the public domain. That they have run directly into the arms of an entirely different kind of exploitation — an R-rated, ultra-violent slasher movie — may seem ironic, but was probably inevitable. You can’t pull a pendulum in one direction for 60 years without expecting it to swing the other way, and hard.

Rhys Frake-Waterfield’s “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” is a cheap, crass, and largely incompetent horror movie about Christopher Robin (Nikolai Leon, “The Killing Tree”) returning to the forest of his childhood, only to discover that in his absence, his beloved anthropomorphic bear and anthropomorphic pig have gone murderously mad as a direct result of his absence. They aren’t figures out of his childhood imagination after all. They are real creatures who depended on Christopher Robin for love and basic sustenance, so his abandonment wasn’t poetic and sad, it was abusive neglect.

After a prologue where Christopher Robin and his wife are quickly dispatched, the movie shifts gears to tell the story of Maria (Maria Taylor, “Mega Lightning”), who decides to get a cabin in the woods to get over her PTSD after a creepy stalker broke into her house — a subplot that turns out to have nothing to do with anything.

Maria brings along a group of friends with only one characteristic a piece: Instagram Enthusiast, Wearer of Glasses, Girlfriend Who Wants to Rekindle the Romance, and Girlfriend Who Just Isn’t Ready Yet For Completely Unspecified Reasons. They’re not so much human beings as they are Instant Corpses™. Just add Pooh!

The plot from that point on consists of Pooh Bear (Craig David Dowsett, “The Area 51 Incident”) and Piglet (Chris Cordell, “Werewolf Cabal”) realizing, oh bother, that humans are on their land, and attacking and/or kidnapping those humans with sledge hammers, machetes, and at one point a car’s front tire, which begs the question of when the heck Winnie the Pooh learned how to drive. Then again, if that was the only problem this movie had it would be a timeless classic.

It sounds like a vicious premise but, to be fair, it’s fundamentally the same idea Disney had with their last live-action Milne movie, “Christopher Robin,” which also posited that Pooh, Piglet and all their buddies were 100% real all along and that Christopher Robin’s abandonment left them in a multi-decade depressive fugue state. The only difference is that in Disney’s version they didn’t go mad from hunger, eat Eeyore, and swear violent revenge on all of humanity. But it would have made just as much sense if they did.

The premise is the only thing that makes sense in “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey.” The film feels half-written, and the half we got wasn’t the good half. Characters and storylines pop up out of nowhere, disappear into the ether, and almost all of them turn out to be pointless. Rules are established and broken. Up is down, cats are dogs, and a straight-to-VHS quality horror movie is somehow in theaters.

Setting aside the half-baked characters and a plot so raw it’s probably got salmonella, “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” is staggeringly inept in surprisingly obvious ways. There’s a moment in the prologue where the Robin family find a piece of paper and are horrified by what they see on it, wondering aloud why anyone would write or draw it. We never see an insert shot of that paper nor is it ever mentioned again. There’s no reason whatsoever why that moment is in the movie.

The biggest laugh comes halfway through, after the first corpse has been found and Maria and her friends start to panic. They run into the foyer and discover the words “GET OUT” have been written on the windows in blood. It’s at this point one of them realizes, and announces to the rest of the class, that whoever killed their friend “probably wrote that, too.” Which the rest of us probably took for granted, but who knows? Maybe it really was just a wacky coincidence?

“Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” is so slapdash and incredibly cheap that it’s almost, but not entirely, punk rock. The embarrassing monster masks never make Pooh and Piglet look like they’re monsters. They just look like dudes in bootleg Winnie the Pooh masks. It comes across like a dime store, childish plea for attention. If they whipped out guitars and screeched out some Black Flag or Minor Threat covers you wouldn’t bat an eye, although you also wouldn’t make eye contact or buy their CD at the door. (Okay, maybe their t-shirts.)

Then again, “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” isn’t trying to tell a great story, or even an interesting one. It exists entirely to exist, because until about a year ago its existence would have been impossible. While that novelty wears off, and wears off quickly, at least audiences will be able to say they were there the day Winnie the Pooh broke out of his corporate cage and started murdering everybody. Yes, it was real; yes, it was in theaters, and yes, it was a little bit better — or at least a little more honest — than “Christopher Robin.”