Directed by: #PhillipGCarrollJr
Written by: #PhillipGCarrolJr
As we approach 2021, giant biotech corporations will soon be riding a vaccine-shaped wave of public approval in which even the most revolutionary of comrades will be giving them a thumbs up. But regardless of what good gets done in the real world - men in white coats who turn up in sci-fi movies working for the totally-non-threatening ‘Millenium Project’ will always draw suspicious glances, especially when they offer people $50,000 to take part in an experiment called The Honeymoon Phase.
Young couple Tom (Jim Schubin) and Eve (Chloe Carroll) agree to join an experiment studying their budding marriage, to assess how long ‘The Honeymoon Phase’ lasts. After a rather suspicious induction process, they awake in a home isolated from the rest of the world where any and every desire they have can be supplied – with the one condition that they must be monitored at all times. Life is good at first, but gradually Eve begins to notice differences in Tom. As days go by, she begins to question her own sanity and uncovers that there is more to their experiment than meets the eye.
The Honeymoon Phase is an ambitious sci-fi inspired by the likes of Ex-Machina and Black Mirror. However, it fails to come close to the dark brilliance of its influences. The message and themes of the film are completely muddled, and it is unclear just what it is really meant to be about. The likes of Ex-Machina do not disturb us because they feature endless white corridors or graphic, brutal violence (something that Honeymoon Phase revels in). They disturb us because they force us to confront our own flawed human nature – and remind us that we are ultimately small, stupid and vulnerable no matter what technology we have at our fingertips. Honeymoon Phase offers no such quandary to its audience. It doesn’t ask us to think. There is nothing in this dystopian world that relates to our own. If viewers want sinister holograms and conspiratorial paranoia, there may be enough here to entertain. But for a film so clearly influenced by great sci-fi, it is a shame that it forgot to include what makes them so special.
Jim Schubin and Chloe Carroll are fine individually as Tom and Eve, each performance effectively portraying their respective journeys from elation to madness. Unfortunately, the chemistry between the pair is non-existent. What are meant to be endearing moments to convince us they are the perfect couple come across as cringeworthy. Their relationship then descends so unnaturally that it almost feels comical. The script is to blame here. Major developments and personality shifts happen solely because the story says it is time to – not because they feel earned or natural. It is a mystery what motivates the characters when their personalities turn so randomly – and it shows in the actor’s struggle to convincingly depict this.
The film is sleek and production is impressive, feeling appropriately futuristic yet contemporary. Philip Carroll’s direction works on a superficial level, with some striking shots and cinematography. But the storytelling is weak, and the attempt to mix genres only confuses the tone. The interesting sci-fi themes are abandoned for a horror movie that simply isn’t scary enough. By the time the film wants to be a thriller, viewers will be lost.
There is a good movie somewhere in The Honeymoon Phase. The concept is interesting if unoriginal and the film is not afraid to push boundaries and fully commit to its story, however confused it might be. But the lack of any developed theme means that it fails to engage the audience.