Blood Honey (2017)

A woman returns home after an extended absence to find that things have not changed much, yet they are not what it seems.

Written by Doug Taylor and director Jeff Kopas, the film works with themes of family, grieving, mental illness, trauma, and related ones.  As it delves into the family dynamics and relationships between daughter and father, sister and brother, and others, the film develops characters that all have a connection one way or another and whose relationships are strained to say the least.  The characters created seem a bit limited as they pretty much only exist in relation to each other, except for the lead who is a somewhat more fully fleshed character.  Her trauma and evolution are central to the story here, so she makes a decent lead.  Her story is interesting and the twists keep the attention, however, the story feels like something is missing.  But, by the end, things feel more complete in a way.

This is not due to the cast who all do good to great work.  Shenae Grimes-Beech does good work as lead Jenibel Heath and she shows nuances in her performance that add a lot to the suspense once the twists happen and she shows only part of what is going on in her mind.  This adds a lot to her character and pulls the viewer in.  Giving a strong, but short performance is Gil Bellows as the patriarch of the Heath clan who is one mean man and father.  His attitude and the way he carries himself give off a somewhat scary, somewhat crazy vibe which adds to the film’s tone and ambiance by giving everything an odd feeling and giving the family something that can’t be quite pinpointed.  His performance is short in screen time, but he makes a big impact on the film.  Also needing to be mentioned is Krystal Hope Nausbaum as Linda Heath who gives a touching performance and a softer side to the film.

The film boasts beautiful images, setting a mood and a tone with them right from the opening.  When the lead arrives at the remote location where her family lives, the place is shot in an absolutely beautiful way.  The cinematography by D. Gregor Hagey works with the location in a way that adds to the film’s atmosphere and that creates images that not only work with the story but also add another layer to it.  The film’s look and feel is taken from that and help make the story feel more complete.  Supporting all the work mentioned above is the music by Amin Bhatia which is good for most of the run time, but does become a bit much at the 2/3 point of the film.

Blood Honey is primarily a family drama with a touch of paranoia, maybe supernatural, and lots of conflict and trauma.  The film keeps its twists, or explanation, for later in the run time, which creates a bit of a separation in the story, causing the film to feel a somewhat like two different stories stitched together.  The acting does bring it all together in a good way and create something that the viewer can care about.  What wins the audience over here are the performances, the beautiful images, and the family drama which feels real.