The Honeymoon Phase (Movie Review)

The Honeymoon Phase (Movie Review)

Why can’t the honeymoon phase of marriage last forever? One research project seeks to answer this question in the aptly-titled The Honeymoon Phase, a new Sci-Fi/Thriller. Dark Sky Films delivered the drama to select theaters and Digital on Friday, August 21, 2020.

The Millennium Project seeks married couples to participate in a 30-day research study. Compensation is $50,000 per couple, along with free room and board in a posh home. Despite not being married, young lovers Tom (Jim Schubin: Boardwalk Empire series, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit series) and Eve (Chloe Carroll: Epidemic 2018, Wing Girls TV movie 2019) decide to apply. As he’s a writer and she’s a graphic design artist, their hopes of earning that much money to begin their life together are pretty much nil, although Eve does joke that they always have porn.

The Honeymoon Phase still

Once the Director (François Chau: Rescue Dawn 2006, Lost series) selects the couple for his study and they are assigned a Handler (Tara Westwood: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit series, The Grudge 2020), they are set up in their temporary home for the next month. Their stay begins with sex, vodka, and pancakes, though as the days pass their relationship begins to devolve. When Eve begins to question Tom’s motives and authenticity, things only get worse. Have they slipped out of the honeymoon phase or is something much more sinister at work?

Clocking in at 90 minutes, The Honeymoon Phase marks the feature-length debut of Writer-Director Phillip G. Carroll Jr. (Words of Atonement short 2011, The Road to Jericho short 2016). A curious blend of Sci-Fi and Thriller, with plenty of drama and some elements of Horror, the story combines the idea of psychological research with something much more ominous—but there will be no spoilers (or extraterrestrials) here.

From the start, the film blasts full-speed ahead and barely introduces Tom and Eve. All we know about the pair is that she is an artistic type and a British citizen trying to get an visa to remain in the U.S. Her boyfriend Tom is a writer, hard at work on his novel but stuck in a rut. Presumably struggling to pay their bills, the pair discover The Millennium Project and it’s full sail ahead, very few questions asked.

Which is where the issues with the script begin. If we forgive the fact that this study doesn’t do enough background on its subjects to realize that Tom and Eve are not married, there is still the issue of the study itself. Very little is detailed and the subjects ask no questions, leaving the viewer in the dark. And this ultimately leads to a bit of a conundrum, as we ask ourselves why should we even care about Tom and Eve or, for that matter, the Millennium Project? We don’t, and that’s a major hurdle that The Honeymoon Phase never overcomes due to its lack of set-up. As the situation grows more dire for Tom and Eve, there is some tension to keep the moviegoer intrigued, wondering what the outcome will be, but it’s merely from natural curiosity and not a well-detailed screenplay.

The Honeymoon Phase still

Unfortunately, as the film steps into its final act and the puzzle pieces begin to fall into place, the groundwork hasn’t been properly laid for a truly shocking or exciting grand finale. Slapped haphazardly together, there are some Sci-Fi based notions and enough sharp objects to spill some blood, but none of it ever attains the impressive goal that its writer seems to have set out to achieve.

In this, The Honeymoon Phase is hampered from the outset. While nothing about the film ever becomes laughable or comedic, it is aiming for a goal that it simply cannot reach in its current configuration. Thus, Carroll (Eve) and Schubin (Tom) can only do their best with the material they are given, and each has their own struggles with their characters. Carroll’s portrayal of Eve is solid. She is believable as the girlfriend in love with her American boyfriend, the woman who understands that she holds more of the power in their relationship, though she allows Tom to believe otherwise.

Schubin, unfortunately, is unable to ever appear menacing or ominous enough to inspire true fear. And the moments where he is meant to be hysterical and crying are unbelievable, as well. Which is not to suggest that Schubin turns in a poor performance, no: the actor jumps in headfirst and seems tailor-made for the role of the ‘nice guy next door.’ He interacts well with Carroll, and their back and forth never seems forced, though their romantic chemistry is a little lacking. The pair, however, do their very best and keep the story from completely floundering.

The Honeymoon Phase still

As they work to keep the mixed bag afloat, Chris Ryan’s (Shazam! 2019, Hellboy 2019) original score comes in so bold and vibrant as to be more impressive than the onscreen action. A definite win for Ryan, whose compositions feel blockbuster while the film in which they appear feels less than this. But not for want of trying, right?

All of this said, The Honeymoon Phase is not a total wash. If you are intrigued by the idea of a Sci-Fi/Thriller that explores multiple levels, from the psychology of marriage to feminist ideologies to Monarch butterflies, well, this is a film for you. It’s an interesting debut for Writer-Director Carroll Jr., and one that shows that he has big ideas and intends to aim for the stars. We applaud that and look forward to the next phase of his career, so Cryptic Rock gives The Honeymoon Phase 3 of 5 stars.

Dark Sky Films

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Jeannie Blue
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Jeannie likes to joke that she is little, yellow, blue, and different. She seemingly popped out of her mother's womb with a pen in her hand and has been writing ever since. Many moons ago - in what feels like a separate lifetime - Jean was co-editor of an online music magazine that afforded her great opportunities to interview and photograph some of her favorite bands/musicians: Tommy Lee, Good Charlotte, Warrant, Bring Me The Horizon, My Chemical Romance, Sevendust, New Found Glory, Deftones, Poison, VH-1 "Band On the Run" Flickerstick, an endless list of unsigned locals, and so many others. These days, she can usually be found hiking aimlessly through the woods in her favorite Technicolor sneakers with a Nikon in hand and her rescue dog, Molly, who is a bit hare-brained.

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