Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood & Honey II (2024) 

In the sequel, the gang is all here, well almost. Pooh, Piglet, Owl, and Tigger are stalking and killing in the 100 Acres Woods.  

Written by Rhys Frake-Waterfield and Matt Leslie based on characters created by A.A. Milne and directed by Rhys Frake-Waterfield, this sequel ups the ante and goes all out. Well, having not seen the first film, knowledge of the story from the first is not something that was at hand to watch this film, but it was assured that it was not needed. And that was right. The story here is fairly simple, predictable a bit in spots, it’s one of those films that is very much planned as part of a franchise, but more on the Friday the 13th side of things than Scream style. The story here is simple and easily taken as a standalone film. The writing here is a bit generic here, yeah, slashers often are, but in this case, the film has something we’ve not seen all that much and it goes in basically the most predictable direction with it. This could have been called (spoiler alert) 100 Acres Woods of Dr. Moreau. That being said, the story has some interesting beats here and there, so it’s not all a loss. The directing is decent with what it has in the script.  

Where the main issues of the film come from on the technical side of things. The film has some inspired shots here and there, but the lighting here is painful. The unevenness of it all is the most egregious thing of it all. Some scenes are over lit, some are severely underlit, some scenes where the characters walk right through the worst possible spots in terms of lighting, and the last third has so much flashing lights between a rave location and police rooftop lights, the film should come with a flashing light warning. The lack of lighting knowledge shows, and it makes the film look like it was shot by amateurs who got lucky on a few scenes and sequences. This renders a lot of scenes very difficult to watch and makes it become a wonder if director of photography Vince Knight is lacking experience or education or if he was throttled in setting up scenes correctly. Also, in this day and age, a lot of this can be noticed early on and the scene can be reshot, there is no issue of film cost (yes, some other costs are involved) or of having to wait for the film to be developed to see what you have shot. This shows not only a lack of lighting knowledge by those in charge but also a lack of attention to details.  

Which leads into the next item that shows a lack of attention to detail and/or education: The special effects. While they are really well executed, bloody and gross, their design shows a lack of attention and/or education as to how the body works. Yes, this is one of those cases of suspension of disbelief, but if they want the viewers to suspend their disbelief in regards to a walking, stalking, killing Pooh, but to insure that, you have to make sure everything else is on point and not requiring more suspension of disbelief. Here, wounds are put back together in odd ways (example and spoiler: the mangled face of the hospitalized friend, the doctors sewed him up and somehow didn’t give him a mouth). The designs are gross yes, but illogical and that’s maddening. The effects team either didn’t care, had orders to design in certain ways, or just didn’t know any better, not sure which is worse here. In the end, the effects look gross, but too often illogical, causing their own impact to be lessened for any viewer with an ounce of critical thinking and horror viewing experience.  

Where the film hits it right is with the score and the main cast. The score by Andrew Scott Bell elevates the film and, honestly, really helps create the ambiance here and saves more than one scene where the viewer can’t see a thing. His work helps make the film more effective, helps bring up the scare factor in a few scenes, and makes the whole film feel more like the professional production that is it supposed to be. The cast is the second strong item here. The top-billed Scott Chambers does quite well as Christopher Robbins, he sells the character, the fear, the confusion, the emotions of the film. He does all he can to bring this to a higher level and make it easier to watch. Tallulah Evans as Lexy is a solid performer in her supporting role, making one wish she would get more lines and more scenes. Also fantastic is Thea Evans as Bunny. She gets too few scenes and steals each and every one of them. On the bad guy side, Marcus Massey as Owl is the one who has the creepiest presence, the most chilling encounters. While Ryan Oliva has a solid physical presence as Pooh, Massey is really the creepiest performance of the bunch. 

Overall, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey II is a failure. It’s not scary, except for a few bits here and there, the gore is nicely gory but it’s ill-designed, the music and performances are good, but the writing and directing are off at best. The film is so badly lit, it makes it difficult to watch it throughout. From too dark scenes to overly lit scenes, to the extra flashing lights, it’s visually a nightmare (not the good kind) for anyone with any light sensitivities or light training. Without having seen the first film, it’s hard to say if this is more of the same or not, but it sure makes certain that those who see it and aren’t already a fan of the franchise, will not be going back to look for the first film.