THE HONEMOON PHASE movie poster | ©2020 Dark Sky Films

THE HONEYMOON PHASE movie poster | ©2020 Dark Sky Films

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: Jim Schubin, Chloe Carroll, Francois Chau, Tara Westwood
Writer: Phillip G. Carroll Jr.
Director: Phillip G. Carroll Jr.
Distributor: Dark Sky Films
Release Date: August 21, 2020 (theatrical); September 29, 2020 (Blu-ray & DVD)

THE HONEYMOON PHASE refers literally to the initial period in a happy marriage, when the newlyweds are besotted with each other.

We know up front that something has gone wrong in some phase of the central relationship. THE HONEYMOON PHASE opens with  a young man, Tom (Jim Schubin), addressing the camera to report that his wife has committed suicide on their wedding day.

Flashback. Tom and girlfriend Eve (Chloe Carroll), very much in love but not actually married, find out about the Millennium Project, an experiment that will pay couples $50,000 to live together in an isolated cottage for one month. The Director (Francois Chau) of the experiment explains that he wants to observe married people in all stages of their relationships, to see why that first bloom of romance so often fades.

Eve talks Tom into it. It sounds like a nice vacation, and they can certainly use the money.

Tom and Eve are briefly separated during the orientation process. We stay with Eve while she is sedated. When she wakes up, she’s with Tom in a lovely if a bit eccentric house that seems to be out in nature somewhere (we can see outside, but not actually leave the premises).

At first, everything is happy and delightful, albeit with odd details, like bookcases with tilted shelves. Food is delivered via a tube; a holographic monitor (Tara Westwood) shows up to troubleshoot when she’s summoned. Then, Tom reports in flashforward, things started to change.

From Eve’s perspective, it’s Tom who is changing, becoming more sexually aggressive and fixating on the idea of wanting a baby. At the same time, Eve starts noticing things that Tom insists aren’t happening.

Director/writer Phillip G. Carroll Jr. builds tension fluidly. He bounces back and forth between points of view just enough for us to keep our curiosity fresh from one revelation to the next. There are a few actual jump scares, but the fear mostly comes from our concern for the sympathetic Eve. She loves horror movies, but doesn’t leap to conclusions.

There are a few logic glitches with the project, although explaining what they are gets into spoiler territory. Also, while THE HONEYMOON PHASE doesn’t depict violent rape, there are acts of sexual aggression that may disturb some viewers. There’s also gore, but this is unrated horror, so that’s a more expected part of the territory.

There’s also an interesting ambiguity at the finale. Arguably, it could have been even more provocative if it come down firmly on one side of the possibility it suggests.

THE HONEYMOON PHASE takes a familiar subgenre and uses it as a way to discuss real-world issues in a way that mostly keeps us intrigued.

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