“Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2”. Return to the Hundred Acre Wood… Once Again [REVIEW]

Similar to the first one, Blood and Honey plays on the simple instincts of the audience, and like it, will likely gather enough attention for us to see more adventures of Pooh.

Tomasz Raczkowski

4 June 2024

pooh blood and honey

“True evil always comes from innocence” – this wisdom opens the sequel to one of the most talked-about horror films of 2023. Talked-about doesn’t mean best, because Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey, made possible by the expiration of A. A. Milne’s copyright, was mostly frightening due to its poor quality. However, the sacrilegious treatment of the iconic character from children’s books and films made its mark, and less than a year later, the sequel hit theaters, this time with a bigger budget, better details, and seemingly higher ambitions. Yet, the phrase with which Rhys Frake-Wakefield adorned his new work is prophetic in its own way – though, like the first part, Blood and Honey II is based on good ideas, the result, instead of instilling terror, reminds us what truly bad cinema is.

At the start, it’s not bad again. In the sequel, Frake-Wakefield seems to confront the flaws (to put it euphemistically) of the first part and proposes something like a soft reboot – although we are watching a direct continuation of the events from the previous film, Christopher Robin, dealing with the consequences of the Hundred Acre Wood massacre, has been recast and given a more developed psychological profile. His opponents, in turn, have been endowed with a new, more organic, and aggressive characterization. The director is somewhat inspired by David Gordon Green’s Halloween reboot, as well as the recently refreshed Scream series, and thematizes in Blood and Honey II the media and pop-cultural processing of the tragic confrontation with a feral Pooh and Piglet. The initial theme is Christopher’s alienation, suspected by most of the local community to be the actual perpetrator of the massacre, and at one point, the characters watch… *Blood and Honey*, based on the traumatic confrontation of the boy with his childhood friends (which cleverly explains the change of the main actor and the characterization of the villains). Unfortunately, Rhys-Wakefield is neither Bettinelli-Olpin, nor Tyler Gillett, nor, even more so, Wes Craven, and cannot use this trope beyond the occasional wink.

blood and honey

The creators of Blood and Honey are closer to Gordon Green, who, after a brief influx of good ideas, brings them down to the level of uninspired drivel, ineptly trying to psychologize slasher showdowns. The motifs of abandonment and responsibility at the core of the entire project – which could have made Blood and Honey a twisted version of Christopher Robin – completely disappear, and the context introduced in the sequel linking the characters of Christopher and Pooh, along with a second-rate twist visible from miles away, is even more kitschy than the teens running around the forest in the first part. It’s hard to resist the impression that the plot, even if it contains seeds of interesting topics, serves the creators of Pooh only as a pretext for a parade of violent scenes. And even that wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that the murders committed by the gang in Frake-Wakefield’s film are bloody but boring and lack staging vigor. Just another bloody shift for the residents of the Hundred Acre Wood.

“Blood and Honey II” – neither shocking, nor funny

Dramatically, Blood and Honey II flounders even more than the first one, because at least there no one promised we’d get more than a knife-wielding monster wandering through the forest. The sequel pretends to expand the presented world, enlarge the bestiary, and enrich character stories, but leaves the same feeling of wasted time. All the plot twists are cruelly unoriginal, transparent, and sometimes downright silly. Frake-Wakefield also doesn’t seem to see the obvious potential for campy fun with characters transplanted directly from a child’s imagination into an adult nightmare – the pinnacle of his capabilities is a travesty of Pooh’s image. But by the second film, it’s neither shocking, nor funny, nor interesting.

blood and honey

In terms of production quality, the sequel is a step up from the first part. It certainly looks better, though it would be an exaggeration to say it actually looks good. Like the first one, the sequel plays on simple audience instincts and, like it, will likely garner enough attention that we’ll see more of Pooh’s adventures, which the creators bluntly signal in the post-credits scene. But while there was still hope for improvement with the revamping of the second part, after watching it, it’s hard to believe that this series has anything more interesting to offer – certainly not with the same people at the helm. So for now, let’s stick with the classic version of Winnie-the-Pooh, which is both friendlier and wiser than the slasher version.

Tomasz Raczkowski

Tomasz Raczkowski

Anthropologist, critic, enthusiast of social cinema, British humor and horror films.

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