Silly Misogyny is Still Misogyny: Our Review of ‘The Honeymoon Phase’

Silly Misogyny is Still Misogyny: Our Review of ‘The Honeymoon Phase’

IndieWire Senior Film Critic Dave Ehrlich is probably best known not for his writing skills, but rather, for his occasionally bizarre comparisons that border on parody. Generally speaking, I like Ehrlich’s work, but I do find it a little bit off-putting to try and consider what on Earth “A24’s Magnolia” means. This, however, was before I saw Phillip G. Carroll’s The Honeymoon Phase, an experience I got little out of, save the recognition that sometimes you just have to describe a film as: “late-night cable cult favorite Secret Window run through the filter of a soft core porn version of Charlie McDowell’s The One I Love, with a dash of Vivarium thrown in for good measure.”

If I weren’t beholden to conditions of a self-inflicted code of review (semi) professionalism, I might be tempted to cut off this review right here and on that note. Unfortunately, that premise makes The Honeymoon Phase seem far more interesting than this story of couple Tom (Jim Schbin) and Eve (Chloe Carroll playing a character whose name seems to be an annoying biblical allusion) trying to make it through an experiment designed to test their love for each other actually is. There’re about four more levels of science-fiction horror ridiculousness that I won’t spoil, but suffice it to say this film drives straight off the rails to the realm of the very, very silly.

Two big issues plague Carroll’s film. The first is a formal irritation, and thus, the less aggravating of the two. There’s a strange effect that pops up at random intervals throughout The Honeymoon Phase, where the film seems to employ some type of motion smoothing that’s tremendously distracting and feels shoddily done. Otherwise the film’s formal components are relatively fine, if a little bland, with a strong color grade standing out as a notable positive.

The other, bigger issue, is the film’s latent misogyny. Yes, this film is tremendously silly, particularly it’s action-packed third act and culminating coda. Unfortunately, silly misogyny is still misogyny. As Eve, Chloe Carroll (who is married to the film’s director) plays the film’s central protagonist, who must endure the numerous hardships a female horror film protagonist must find her way through. But it’s attached to this strange spousal abuse plot, that feels more icky than meaningful. The fact that the camera seems to leer over Eve’s body does The Honeymoon Phase no favors. There’s one shot in particular that’s groan-inducingly gauche, where Eve steps out of the bath and the frame cuts off her head and knee, literally relegating her to being just a body.

It also seems icky, because the chief interrogation of the film is spelled out by the large-scale experiment being carried out by a man named, no word of a lie here, The Director (François Chau of Lost fame). It’s clear that Carroll wishes to ask “what causes a couple to fall out of love?” But when conjoined to the film’s dark twist, the suggestion of The Honeymoon Phase is that people fall out of love when one partner begins abusing the other. This is not exactly a deep revelation, which is precisely what makes the film feel misogynistic. There is no mention of the possibility that maybe people fall apart because their hopes, dreams, and desires no longer align?

The culprit here is the film’s limp script, which is far too invested delivering twist after twist, and not nearly invested enough in the central question it wishes to pose. This is to say nothing of the dialogue, which is conspicuously un-erotic, despite being sexually blunt. If there’s a film that uses the word “condom” more times than this does, I would be quite surprised. Ultimately, the honeymoon phase between the audience and this film may wear thin very fast, which is unfortunate as there is likely a lot of film left to get through at that point.

This post was written by
Thomas Wishloff is currently an MA student at York University. He is new to the Toronto Film Scene, but has periodically written and podcasted for several now defunct ventures, and has probably commented on a forum with you at some point. The ex-Edmontonian has been known to enjoy a good board game, and claims to know the secret to the best popcorn in the world.
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