First appearing in A.A. Milne’s book in the 1920’s, Winnie the Pooh has been a staple of children’s entertainment, and after being bought by Disney, has had a very long and prolific lifespan in pop culture. For years, Pooh and his fellow Hundred Acre Wood dwellers have been symbols of kindness, friendship, and a beloved part of so many people’s childhoods.
So it’s only natural that as soon as the character went public domain in 2022, a slasher film immediately went into production. Unlike last year’s The Mean One, Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey didn’t have to skirt around using character names and didn’t have to rely on being “parody”.
There’s an admitted hilarity to the Murphy’s Law that is, “anything that can be distorted into a horror film will be”. And as more and more intellectual properties (many of whom we associate with Disney) go public domain, they too will likely get the horror treatment.
But is Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey just a cheap gimmick, meant to get attention for how provocative its concept is, or is it a genuinely good slasher film that was worth being made. The answer is sort of all of the above…
The film opens with still animation very reminiscent of Milne’s original book, accompanied by a posh, but gentle British narrator, because it’s not really Winnie the Pooh without that. We get a brief retelling of how Christopher Robin befriended Pooh, Rabbit, Owl, Eeyore, and Piglet, and the many wonderful picnics they had in the Hundred Acre Wood.
But Christopher Robin eventually grew up and had to go off to college and medical school, leaving behind his beloved friends. The years that followed weren’t kind, as Pooh and friends dealt with harsh winters and food scarcity.
The cold, the hunger, and the horrific things they did to survive drove them to become dark and twisted. Several years later, Christopher Robin returns, only to find that Pooh (and Piglet) has become a sadistic killer, with a vendetta against humans, especially the one that abandoned him.
Meanwhile, a group of young women are vacationing in a house on the edge of the woods and unwillingly become the targets of Pooh’s bloodlust. There’s a whole subplot about how our protagonist Maria is reeling from the trauma of a stalker who spied on her. It’s as if the film is trying to say something about voyeurism, and even use that angle as Pooh and Piglet stalk their victims, but it ends up not really going anywhere.
The characters themselves largely blur together and none of them really have any time to be developed other than one note stereotypes. To be fair, slashers aren’t exactly known for their deep characters studies, and with a runtime of only 1 hour 24 minutes, that’s not a whole lot of time for character arcs.
So it’s all the more strange that in a movie that’s so short, the third act really seems to drag in terms of pacing. The film is very quick to jump right into the horror, but once Pooh starts chasing them, you quickly lose track of which character was which, so it’s hard to remember who’s dead and who’s alive.
Plus the final pursuit has several drawn out scenes that just end with the characters going to a different location and doing the same thing over again. Though it does have its moments. The kills are creative and absolutely brutal and sadistic, almost to a Rob Zombie degree.
There are few instances of CGI blood here and there, but it’s nowhere near as pervasive or fake-looking as The Mean One. Obviously, this is a very low budget film, which was reportedly shot in only 10 days, but it makes the most of that, and is genuinely well shot and doesn’t look as “amateur” as a lot of other films in the same budget range.
Also, the practical makeup effects on Pooh and Piglet are genuinely monstrous and horrific to a delightful degree. They do a great job of making them resemble their source characters just enough, but with an animalistic and real-life twist to it. Almost like you typed in “creepy Winnie the Pooh” into an AI and this is the image you would get.
The biggest issue the film has is the wasted potential of the character of Christopher Robin. He’s very much relegated to a background character and doesn’t spend a whole lot of time on screen. As a result, the movie just feels like a generic indie slasher that happens to have Winnie the Pooh as the killer.
Whereas a different version of this movie might have Christopher Robin as the main character, reeling with the guilt of abandoning his friends while also having to muster the courage to fight them to the death. But if you’re going to have another character as the lead, it helps to develop them a little better, which the movie kind of fails to do with Maria.
That being said, this movie is exactly what you’d expect it to be. If you go in just for the fun gimmick of watching Winnie the Pooh kill people, you’ll enjoy it for what it is. And if you go in looking for some deeper meaning or witty British satire, you probably need to lower your expectations.
A sequel has already been announced, and with more and more IPs going public domain, who knows? We may very well have a new cinematic universe of horrific distortions of childhood classics, and that should bring joy to any horror fan!
What did you think of Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey? What other childhood classics would you like to see turned into horror films? Let us know in the comments!
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