03rd Sep2020

Frightfest 2020: ‘The Honeymoon Phase’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Jim Schubin, Chloe Carroll, François Chau, Tara Westwood, Ione Butler, Mike Sutton | Written and Directed by Phillip G. Carroll Jr.

Phillip G. Carroll Jr. has written and directed a variety of short films in his career, and The Honeymoon Phase adds a notch to his resume as his first foray into feature films. The movie tells the story of a young couple named Tom (Jim Schubin) and Eve (Chloe Carroll) who, in order to make some easy cash, lie about their relationship in order to enter something named “The Millennium Project”. They must convince and keep up the lie that they’re married whilst undertaking this research project in the place of guinea pigs. Under a scientific behavioural microscope, things begin to change for this couple… and not in the best and calmest of ways either.

The Honeymoon Phase is a real cave-jump into relationships, into trust and that niggling tension some might feel when they ponder the idea of “is this person really the person I think they are?”. It has the sci-fi peculiarity of The Twilight Zone with a modern contemporary edge, and I think it manages to do psycho-thriller really well, upping the tension and questioning both viewers and the characters themselves as the story progresses.

It takes the concept of scientists playing God and puts our once seemingly normal couple into a nightmare scenario as we watch their minds unravel, especially in Eve’s case, as madness seeps into their existence. This big luxurious house they are staying in becomes something of a prison for their bodies and minds, and I thought the whole thing was targeted and realised wonderfully. Carroll’s attention to detail and intriguing concepts are worth a round of applause in themselves, but along with some top notch performances, especially from the two leads Schubin and Carroll (wife of Phillip G), this is an intelligent and riveting tale, and one that felt completely unique and new to me. There’s a lot going on here, and the final moments of the film, packed with ideas, is done really well. It could have become something of a jumbled mess, but it’s obvious that Carroll is able to juggle plenty of ideas and fit them all into place before they fall to the floor messily. There’s a fine line to be trodden when it comes to mind-bending science fiction and the attempt to tell a surreal horror story, but I felt like The Honeymoon Phase managed to pull it off. It even made me feel uncomfortable with it’s idea of this psychological torment that it inspects.

A psychological question mark of a movie, The Honeymoon Phase is one of those films that makes you sit and think once the credits have rolled, whilst also bringing the entertainment in heaped spoonfuls. The concept of what a relationship can truly mean to some is a large notion to begin exploring, and this takes that idea, the idea of whether or not this concept of love and commitment can sit aside opposite feelings of isolation and danger, and runs with it. Full of indie sci-fi delights and a few creepy moments, The Honeymoon Phase is a welcome kiss at the front door. Just keep your eye out for that knife hiding behind its back.

**** 4/5

The Honeymoon Phase screened as part of this years Frightfest Digital Edition on Saturday August 29th. The film is also available on VOD in the US from Dark Sky Films.


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