Isobel Pankhurst calls Honeycomb a creepy Lord of the Flies-esque story about a group of girls turned feral.
Screened virtually at the Boston Underground Film Festival, Honeycomb, co-written and directed by Avalon Fast, tells the story of a group of five girls who are bored with their lives. At the beginning of summer, Willow (Sophie Bawks-Smith), stumbles upon an abandoned cabin, which she decides to move into and her friends soon follow. Leader (Destini Stewart), Jules (Jillian Frank), Vicky (Mari Geraghty), and Millie (Rowan Wales) pack their bags and whisper a quick goodbye to the life they knew, leaving letters to their parents, boyfriends and sisters.
The film is essentially a Lord of the Flies-esque story about a group of girls turning feral. However, rather than being stuck on an island, the group chooses to remain isolated. The girls come up with a set of rules, including one that allows them to take revenge against any of the other girls they feel have wronged them. Revenge can take the form of whatever feels right for the accuser, an “eye for an eye” as they say.
The best thing about the film is the eerie music and sound effects. The music by Max Graham, who appears as Jude in the film, really adds to the atmosphere, with the beautifully eerie tone of the music reflecting the directions the narrative takes. From the very beginning, these sounds play over shots of a painting of a blonde woman inside a honeycomb, wearing a crown of bees. A shot that becomes even creepier on a second watch after seeing the climax and finale of the film. The music and sound effects have a truly spooky effect when the characters begin talking about how the cabin has called to them.
Another great part of the film is the cinematography. Full of creepy and beautiful shots, the film evokes the feeling of being given whiplash, but in a good way. It’s a credit to Fast and the rest of the crew’s brilliance given the film’s nonexistent budget. One scene that stands out in particular, is when June (Jaris Wales), silently stares off into a mirror as we hear other characters screaming and shouting offscreen. Again, this is a scene that given a second watch is particularly creepy and full of foreshadowing.
With beautiful floral dresses, and a stark red uniform for the girls the outfits worn throughout the film are fantastic, all of them have the vibe of something a teenage girl would wear and like the music add to the film’s atmosphere. Some of the girls are wearing dresses reminiscent of the cottagecore trend. The trend involved people posting about how they wished they could just wear beautiful dresses and run away from their lives to live in the woods—something that becomes a reality for the characters in Honeycomb.
While the premise of the film is interesting, it does, sadly, feel somewhat lacking at times. As if a high school drama class has been placed in a relatively good screenplay, their line delivery is rather strange. There is one scene in which a visitor to the cabin is shocked and disgusted by the girls' actions and begins to shout and insult them. There’s something about this scene that just feels bizarre due to the lack of emotion being shown. The anger and shock the character is clearly meant to feel are absent.
The narrative feels stunted due to its lack of explanation. It’s never quite clear why the girls have abandoned their lives for the cabin, why the cabin calls to them and how they were able to find it with no prior knowledge. This suggests something supernatural at work, but this is never expanded upon and the viewer is left wondering what exactly is going on.
Honeycomb is a pretty film with great music and atmospheric, yet realistic, costumes, but it lacks the depth and substance needed to break out of being a purely aesthetic viewing experience.