Max Strands feature debut Goodbye Honey is a mystery thriller that does an awful lot right with its minimal style and two great performances. However, it sadly stretches itself too thin just when you are compelled to the story—a slight misstep but still a film you should catch.
Dawn (Pamela Jayne Morgan), a truck driver, pulls into a state park to get some sleep when she is ambushed by Phoebe (Juliette Alice Gobin), a young woman who claims she is fleeing an abductor. Dawn is wary of Phoebe’s story, leading to a struggle that leaves her phone broken, the keys missing, and nothing but darkness between them and help. As the night progresses, it becomes clear they are not alone. Bonding over a shared history of trauma, Dawn and Phoebe realize they must learn to trust each other if they want to survive a night full of unexpected twists and violent turns.
Sadly, the script is Goodbye Honey’s biggest flaw as it simply contains far too many plot holes for a story that should be as simple as this, add in an utterly pointless excursion away from the main plot for a flashback. We lose what was making the film work ever so well. When the film focuses on the present, it works ever so well, especially when it hovers around its two leads; as soon as it leaves them and relies on pure coincidence to succeed, it stretches your trust in the story.
What also goes against Goodbye Honey is that opening act. On the page, there is simply no way to be on Phoebe’s side of the story as she is just so distant and odd. There is no reason why she could not wait a moment for Dawn to finish her call or to let her finish looking for something that she has lost. She is with another person who has a weapon to protect them. She should feel safer than on her own. Yet there she is, being off, thus costing both the time to get away and put them into danger.
As that opening act continues, you are further distanced by her actions and also that of Dawn, who doesn’t appear to be in much of a hurry to get things sorted. Also, how are these people so loose with how they hold a phone that people can just snap it out of their hands? A shame, but one that is saved by its cast.
With two compelling actors on the screen, these slights are effortlessly forgiven as they venture onwards, building up tension with ease as you try to work out whether or not we should believe Phoebe or not. With the arrival of two menacing teens, you think that the film is going to go down a different route, but that is all part of the plan here, as, with a 95-minute runtime, there is only so much that can be done with just two characters hiding in a removal truck.
Juliette Alice Gobin and Pamela Jayne Morgan really help elevate the script with their performances, with Gobin really leading the audience down a path on whether or not we should believe her; she is quite effective here as her actions increase the suspense and cause us to increasingly worry for the safety of Dawn. Morgan is the standout here; however, as the sleep-deprived Dawn, having to tackle so much on a journey in which she is just trying to complete a job, she is quite relatable; the more Phoebe acts up, the more frustrated she gets with her. Honestly, that will be felt by the viewer.
As well as the cast, the tension racked up by director and co-writer Max Strand has been done particularly well for a film that, for the most part, is set around or in a removal truck. A sparse parking area, the level of tension here should not be as high at all times, this thriller has you second-guessing. Yet once the Goodbye Honey gets to the finale, you are just buckled in and happy to go along for the ride. Anxiety rides through the film with ease, and Strand does an excellent job of keeping his audience compelled throughout, especially considering some of the negatives within the script.
The finale doesn’t work as well as it ought to due to the film trying to come across far too clever for its own good with an abundance of reveals. Despite that, though, and without spoiling much from this film, Goodbye Honey is certainly a film that you should catch whenever the chance avails. A low key film rife with atmosphere and great performances.
Goodbye Honey Takes Audiences Captive Across North America on Digital HD and Cable VOD on 11th May.
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