The Honeymoon Phase (2020) Loses Its Spark Quickly
Title: The Honeymoon Phase
First Wide Release: August 21, 2020 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Phillip G. Carroll Jr.
Writer: Phillip G. Carroll Jr.
Runtime: 89 Minutes
Starring: François Chau, Chloe Carroll, Jim Schubin
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
A young couple gets the chance of a lifetime to win $50,000 by participating in a research study involving married people. Disguising themselves as newlyweds, Tom (Jim Schubin) and Eve (Chloe Carroll) enter and are selected to spend 30 days in an all-expense paid luxury cabin where their only job is answer a few questions. This means a lot to the couple as it would give Tom the ability to write his book and Eve to create the cover art. After coming down the initial high, however, Eve begins to notice strange things about Tom that begin to trouble her. Her suspicions only grow as she gets mixed messages from the conductors of the study and Tom acts in uncharacteristic ways. Is this just a case of young people really learning what ‘forever and always’ means or is something more sinister afoot?
The Honeymoon Phase gets irritatingly close to being an interesting flick but is bogged down by poor acting and flawed writing.
A confined film in both production and environment, The Honeymoon Phase is limited by its poor writing and bland characters. I have to start off by saying my first issue is that there isn’t really an experiment to this. What is the control group? I’m tired of sci-fi horror films doing “experiments” without a control group. This might be doing the most, but I stand by this feeling. Despite my petty issues with the premise, the real fault with The Honeymoon Phase lies in its inability to stay consistent and on-messsage.
Are they on a sprawling estate or in a facility? It changes depending on the filmmaker’s mood. How does the timeline work with Eve's pregnancy? Time and science is warped to adhere to whatever the film’s needs are currently. How is Eve able to sustain so many injuries without medical attention while others succumb to the smallest of injuries? This is a common horror trope that I would usually let slide but not in combination with the following factors, and others. The entire film is one explanation after another of sweeping plot holes and faulty logic under the rug. What’s worse is that despite all of this, the ending can still be seen from a mile away.
Despite some initially promising commentary about gender roles, the film’s clumsy writing blunts any chance it has of being remotely frightening or interesting. Eve is such a flat character who is ironically created to serve a reminder of who Tom is supposed to be. We know almost nothing about her aside from throwaway lines. The most substantial information we know is that she wants to design Tom’s book covers.
Even in her most defined characteristic, it’s still in service to Tom. It feels counterproductive to what the film is trying to state with its message. Tom has defined goals that change. He wants to be a great writer and start a family. Obviously as we learn more, we understand why he expresses that. But very little is done to explain why this shift exists. Neither character comes to life as both Carroll and Schubin deliver weak performances. Carroll lacks charisma and Schubin is unconvincing in both his attempts at romance and intimidation.
Unfortunately, there’s just not much going for The Honeymoon Phase. A concept doesn’t make a movie and it doesn’t look like the production team had much of a vision beyond its premise. It’s uninteresting and has poor production values, so it’s hard to sell to even the most forgiving of genre fans. Both oddly paced and artificial in setup and execution, The Honeymoon Phase goes through the motions instead of seeking out something truly innovative or compelling. Reader, here’s a word of advice, if you’re looking for love, this is not the right movie, and you may need to change course.
Overall Score? 4.5/10