Review: Goodbye Honey

Written and directed by Max Strand, co-written by Todd Rawiszer, after escaping abduction, a frantic woman must coerce an exhausted truck driver to hide in the back of her truck for the night. The two women take refuge not knowing what the rest of the night has in store. Starring: Juliette Alice Gobin, Pamela Jayne Morgan, Peyton Michelle Edwards, Stacey Van Gorder, Paul C. Kelly, Aaron Mitchell, Rafe Soule, Keara Benton and Jake Laurence.

One of the most interesting elements about this film right from the beginning is the dynamic between Dawn (Morgan) and Phoebe (Gobin), it asks a lot of questions about the willingness to help strangers and levels of trust that are very relevant today. Whereas other films may have chosen for there to be an immediate sympathy between these two women, it’s refreshing that Dawn instead keeps Phoebe at arms length, helping but wary of what she’s getting herself into. It then works in another new aspect in how aggressive and forthright Phoebe is, with survivors usually retreating into themselves and being fragile, whereas her character is not taking any chances and will do whatever it takes to escape her captor, though never loses that vulnerability. The evolution of their dynamic and how they slowly come to find common ground feels very original in what otherwise is quite a familiar story.

However, the writing does stumble at points, particularly in the middle, bringing in two younger male characters in very hostile roles feels over the top and out of place. Their entire scene is quite transparently a distraction or segue intended to inject some tension but all it does is take away from the story. The characters themselves are also poorly constructed, there’s very conflicting factors of their level of observance versus taking drugs. The time they take out to explore the backstory to Phoebe’s kidnapping also feels like it takes away from the story, it’s quite repetitive and considering it is quite a simple motivation of warped justice on the part of her captor, it takes an unnecessary chunk of the run time. Playing it more singularly focused on these characters, keeping you constantly on edge feels like it could have been more effective, rather than including these distractions.

Otherwise it’s a solid story, it’s very familiar but with an original edge. Strand’s direction is quite similar in that respect, it feels much like that of its genre but retains a sharp edge to the visual. It stays very close to its characters but never loses that sense of isolation and danger, the more closed off it becomes, the more it leaves fear to build on curiosity and questioning of what could be outside of the truck. Outside of those segues, it does manage to build an on-edge atmosphere that’s satisfying to watch, it throws back to very classic thriller elements and that’s where its strength lies.

Juliette Alice Gobin and Pamela Jayne Morgan are a key element of building the tension and suspense that this film holds and they do it well. Both of them give their characters a rounded and relatable feel, but they both also hold a quality that feels unpredictable, that you can’t be entirely sure what they’re capable of. There’s a lot of emotion in this story but they handle it well, it’s subtle for the most part which is a great strength of their performances that they bring the intensity but don’t go over the top with melodramatics. Paul C. Kelly is a great addition, he brings that wild eyed, reckless quality to those that have been wrecked by grief and guilt to a point of no return.

Goodbye Honey is a solid thriller that plays on what we know, while adding an original edge. Gobin and Morgan lead the way with their understated but intense performances while Strand’s direction keeps the tension and suspense rolling along. The writing could use some tidying but it’s a great concept and plays out well for the most part, although it would have been nice to see the ending pack more of a gut punch and not give away so much a little early. Regardless, it’s an entertaining thriller, that’s genuinely worth checking out, especially for any fans of Run.

Verdict: ✯✯✯ ½

Available on Digital in the US from 11th May

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