‘Winnie-the-Pooh 2’ Is a Honey Pot Full of Horrible Ideas

Courtesy of ITN Distribution
Courtesy of ITN Distribution

Due to notoriety far more than quality (which it wholly lacked), last year’s Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey proved an indie horror hit. Thus, the world will now be subjected to additional entries in what British writer/director Rhys Frake-Waterfield and production companies Jagged Edge Productions and ITN Studios have dubbed the “Twisted Childhood Universe,” which aims to bring together various iconic children’s-lit characters who have entered the public domain and, consequently, are fair game for juvenile schlockmeisters.

This will all build to a crossover event film dubbed Poohniverse: Monsters Assemble, whose Avengers-esque title primarily suggests multiple dirty puns. Yet before that undoubtedly Z-grade effort materializes, Frake-Waterfield continues expanding his A.A. Milne-inspired series with Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2, a sequel that ups the ante in virtually every way—none of them good.

Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2, which is now in theaters, boasts a bigger budget, higher production values, and an entirely new cast. Alas, when it comes to the things that matter most—like writing, directing, and acting—it’s as chintzy and inept as its predecessor. It’s also crude, ugly, and decidedly misogynistic, but more on that later.

Per tradition, the scene is set by an animated prologue which explains that, in the aftermath of the preceding film’s “Hundred Acre Wood Massacre,” the murderous Pooh (Ryan Oliva) and Piglet (Eddy MacKenzie) have sought out old compatriots Owl (Marcus Massey) and Tigger (Lewis Santer) to try to survive an Ashdown community that’s torn between disbelieving they exist and wanting them exterminated with extreme prejudice. Christopher Robin (Scott Chambers) faces similar threats, given that many assume he was responsible for the prior slaughter, thereby jeopardizing both his job at the local hospital and, hilariously, his attendance at a friend’s rave—the fear being that his presence will scare off his mate’s boob-flashing clientele.

A close up of Winnie the Pooh in a still from ‘Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey 2’
Courtesy of ITN Distribution

In the first film, Pooh and company had turned homicidally feral, i.e., they ceased talking and ate their own, due to their anger over Christopher growing up, departing for college, and leaving them alone. In Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2, however, this is largely reconfigured in an incoherent and idiotic manner. According to the freshly rewritten lore, Pooh, Piglet, and the rest were always creepy mutant beasts, and Christopher simply couldn’t see this because, um, well, his mind was so terrified that he blocked out reality, instead imagining them as fun and cheery buddies. Frake-Waterfield tries in vain to sell this revelation via one of two instances in which Christopher undergoes hypnotherapy in order to unlock past memories of his brother Billy, who was snatched from a birthday party when they were young, and whose disappearance haunts him to this day.

Technically, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 is moderately more professional than its ancestor, but that’s saying absolutely nothing, and it doesn’t mean Frake-Waterfield has learned anything productive during the past year. Every other scene is shot in incomprehensible darkness, often to the point of absurdity; I’m not sure why the director thinks that people go hunting in the dead of night sans flashlights, or wash dishes in their kitchens without the lights on, but that’s the sort of illogicality that governs these dim-witted proceedings. Considering that there isn’t an original composition in the lot, his framing is only slightly better, as is his editing, which fails to devise a single seamless transition, much less an effective jolt that might break up the grim monotony.

‘Winnie the Pooh’ Horror Filmmakers Add Bambi, Tinkerbell to ‘Poohniverse’

Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 doesn’t feature a competent performance, and worse, its fiends are a clownishly unscary bunch. Pooh’s reimagined visage resembles a dime-store version of Jim Carrey’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas make-up, Owl looks like an overgrown vulture, and Tigger appears to be little more than a marginally more feline variation on Pooh. The latter two also now speak, for reasons that are never properly explicated. Neither is the fact that, despite having rejected any trace of his own humanity, Pooh still wears overalls, a flannel shirt, and work boots. What’s inescapably clear, however, is the awfulness of screenwriter Matt Leslie’s dialogue—lowlighted by a cop telling his fellow officers “Let’s bounce,” and Tigger replying, “That’s my line!”

In Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2, Christopher’s ordeal in the initial film has now been transformed into a (fictional) movie. Nonetheless, this sequel abruptly drops that meta angle so it can focus on its abiding love: staging misogynistic torture, murder, and dismemberment.

Women have long borne the brunt of horror movie pain and suffering, and yet rarely with the off-putting cruelty on display here. The few men targeted by Pooh and his buddies all perish swiftly and/or off-screen, whereas women (referred to as “bitch” by Tigger alone on three successive occasions) are dispatched in money-shot close-ups that gleefully highlight their limbs being broken, their faces being bludgeoned by blunt-object weapons, and their mouths being impaled with rods, blades, or, in one case, their own severed arm. Since Frake-Waterfield doesn’t intend these killings to be suspenseful, and he goes overboard depicting one pretty woman after another meeting an excessively grisly fate, the action soon becomes not-so-subtly hateful.

Tigger stands in a still from ‘Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey 2’
Courtesy of ITN Distribution

Even at 100 minutes, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 is comically padded, with any number of reaction shots and diversions serving no purpose. Because it cares less for continuity with the first film than laying the groundwork for its eventual descendants, it wastes tremendous time having a janitor explain that an evil local doctor was responsible for the abduction of Billy and other kids, whom he used as subjects for his diabolical DNA-splicing experiments. This means that, yes, Pooh turns out to be Christopher’s long-lost sibling, and if that’s not enough to cause viewers to burst into laughter—or, smarter still, to vacate the theater—there’s always another moronic utterance, shadows-shrouded slaying, or cheap-looking effect (be it Owl flying through the air or Pooh chasing his prey on all fours) to do the trick.

An illustrated end-credits sequence, meanwhile, delivers glimpses of upcoming Twisted Childhood Universe installments involving Bambi, Pinocchio, and Peter Pan—teases that, in light of this endeavor’s wretchedness, feel like guarantees of future misery.

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