Winnie-The-Pooh: Blood And Honey Review: Don't Bother With This Humorless Bloodbath

On January 1, 2022, A.A. Milne's gentle 1926 children's novel "Winnie-the-Pooh" finally entered the public domain. Previously, Disney owned the rights to the character, having owned them since 1966, and for many, Disney's rendition of the little stuffed teddy bear had become the character's pop culture standard. Few characters in children's literature are as gentle and as guileless as Winnie-the-Pooh, and Disney's version merely amped up the saccharine sweetness. Milne's conceit is that Pooh and his stuffed animal compatriots may be imagined by their owner, a 6-year-old British boy named Christopher Robin, and their conversations are whimsically circular and not terribly deep. 

Naturally, when Pooh became the property of the people, the first thing filmmaker Rhys Frake-Waterfield wanted to do was to make an ultra-violent horror movie, with everyone favorite silly ol' bear as a bloodthirsty, murderous hillbilly. The resulting film is just as stupid as one might expect. 

The most notable feature of "Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey" is its complete lack of humor. With Pooh and Piglet as murderous monsters, one might assume the filmmakers would draw from Milne's iconography, dialogue, or from E.H. Shepard's famous illustrations to derive horror and murder scenarios. Disappointingly, Pooh and Piglet — envisioned as mute, 7-foot humanoid behemoths with cartoonish animal heads — are no different in practice than the murder family from "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" or the mutant forest-dwellers from "Wrong Turn." Naturally, one might expect a winking, ironic, "Funny Or Die" tone to serve as the spine of a Poohbear horror film, playing up the absurdity of its central conceit. "Blood and Honey" opts to play the horror completely straight. This wouldn't be so horrible a miscalculation had the horror also been, well, any good.

Pooh as a mutant outcast

"Blood and Honey" borrows a notable conceit from Disney's own 2018 film "Christopher Robin." In that film, the titular boy left his stuffed toys behind in the 100-Acre Wood to join the army, grow up into Ewan McGregor, and start a family of his own. Years later, Christopher would return home to find that his stuffed animals remained alive and alone in the woods during his absence, but remained just as eager to play. The prologue of "Blood and Honey," explains that Christopher Robin (Nikolai Leon) befriended actual animals in the 100-Acre Wood, describing Pooh and his friends as bizarre mutant animal hybrids, creatures that might have been seen on the Island of Dr. Moreau. They began to rely on Christopher for food. When he left to go to college, the animals began to starve and became feral. Owl, Piglet, Rabbit, and Pooh even stooped to killing and eating Eeyore. Ho ho ho. 

In the present, Christopher returns to his now-dilapidated childhood home to find Pooh (Craig David Dowsett) and Piglet (Chris Cordell) as more or less Leatherface, complete with weaponized chains and surrounded by the bones of their victims. Also stumbling perfunctorily into the film is a sextet of nondescript twentysomething ingenues (among them Amber Doig-Thorne, Natasha Rose Mills, and May Kelly) staying at a nearby cabin. Lacking in distinct personalities, as well as basic intelligence, these six characters will spend the rest of the film getting maimed and murdered by Pooh or Piglet. This is a group that panics when they find that one of their own is dead, and only then deduces that the potential murderer might have been the same one to have written "GET OUT" on their windows. Ya think? 

We need to talk about the masks

We need to talk about the masks. They're a problem. Pooh is meant to resemble an exaggerated, caricatured version of Disney's designs, but aged up to look like a bear in his 40s. The masks, however, have no articulation. The lips and features are static and rubbery, and there didn't seem to be much effort made to blend them with the actors' faces. Pooh and Piglet don't look like mutant animal monsters, nor do they look like cartoons. In effect, they look like men in rubber masks. One might expect a late-film twist wherein the characters remove their heads revealing their true selves underneath. I am sad to report that the monsters merely look terrible. 

Often, a slasher movie can be forgiven for its banality or idiocy if there was a modicum of creativity to the gore and to the filmmaking. "Blood and Honey" possesses no such creativity, its kills as rote as any random slasher film from the early 1980s. One character has her head run over by a car, causing it to pop like a grape. For a fleeting moment, the audience may find a merciful titter at the sight of Winnie-the-Pooh behind the wheel of a sedan, but the visual is so fleeting, and the film so disinterested in enjoying its own silliness that it barely registers. 

Where are the jokes? Where is the kill involving a character getting stuck in their own doorway? Or the dispatch of Pooh via a balloon? Where is the humor? The filmmakers have waited decades for Winnie-the-Pooh to be in the public domain, and this facile, rote, cheap, humorless bloodbath is all they could come up with. "Blood and Honey" will disappoint fans of Pooh, fans of irony, and fans of horror. Don't bother.

/Film Rating: 1 out of 10