01st Jun2021

‘Royal Jelly’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Fiona McQuinn, Tim Tanner, Lory Tom Thompson Sr., G. Tremain Merrell, Lucas T. Matchett, Elizabeth McCoy, Sherry Lattanzi, Nicole Prunty, Raylen Ladner, Jesse Hartsog | Written and Directed by Sean Riley

I can’t say I’ve seen many horror movies that involve bees. If we just forget THAT moment from The Wicker Man remake, then there’s not too much to talk about. I’m almost certain I’ve seen a movie titled Killer Bees but I remember very little about it – so Royal Jelly at least doesn’t have many challengers in this very small horror sub genre.

Seemingly a twist on the Roald Dahl short story of the same name (a short story that was previously filmed as an episode for Tales of the Unexpected), it tells the tale of a teenager who is a bit of an outcast at school but is groomed by a stand in teacher who seems to have other motives – unsurprising spoiler, they both like bees!

I think there is a truly twisted and strange story to be told about the connection or relationship humans and bees might have but Royal Jelly doesn’t produce it. There’s moments where its twisted ideas come to the forefront and that is when the film is at its best. The lead girls birth scene is probably a highlight… Unfortunately there”s not a whole lot of positive highlights. In fact the main moment that has stuck in my mind since finishing the movie involves a set of practical effect bee wings that were laughably bad.

Although the lead actress does well at times, she is constantly fighting a really poor script; a script which really doesn’t help the whole cast who over-act their way through much of the movie, at times it all becoming a bit “pantomine villain”-like but I’m certain the filmmakers were going for something much more serious. A serious style could have worked but maybe a more comedy based movie wold have been a better choice here. If not, this needed to be grittier and although a big budget is not needed, some of the ideas would have looked better with more money spent…

Though I didn’t think about this until a while AFTER I had watched the movie, but for a movie about and centered around bees, Royal Jelly doesn’t actually show much in the way of actual bees! Too much time is spent on the teenagers school life and turnaround from outcast to…. well, normal-looking teenager, which is all a bit unnecessary and boring. A background story on the life of the teacher and why both women like bees so much would have been more interesting, I think.

If I told you the first thing I looked up after seeing Royal Jelly was ‘do bees have fangs?, I think that might help you decide whether to watch this movie or not (there’s no definite answer here by the way but the Royal Jelly filmmakers have different ideas). There are way too many low budget horror movies that feel like made for daytime TV movies with added gore or violence. Royal Jelly has a bit of that but also some bizarre ideas thrown in too.

Not as odd or as exciting as you’d wish it would be, maybe just watch Killer Bees instead. Or even better the Royal Jelly episode of Tales of the Unexpected.

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