Honeyspider is a new film from director Josh Hasty and screenwriter Kenny Capteron. It follows a young woman on her 21st birthday, which happens to fall on Halloween. There’s talk of a Halloween party, but she has to go to work at a movie theater where…let’s just say her shift doesn’t go so well.
Here’s the official synopsis:
It’s Halloween day in 1989 and college student Jackie Blue wants to enjoy a quiet birthday in the midst of a chaotic semester at school. Her friend Amber has other ideas and persuades Jackie to come to the annual Monster Mash party on campus after her shift at the local movie theater. As murder plays out on the silver screen during the theater’s Halloween night Horrorthon, Jackie falls under a strange spell, all while a mysterious stranger watches over her every move. As the night unfolds, Jackie slowly unravels and everyone around her is turning up dead. Jackie finds herself helplessly trapped like prey in a spider’s web, and all she can do is try to survive the night!
On paper, it sounds like a pretty good time. On screen (at least while sober), not so much.
Honeyspider appears to exist solely to embrace the spirit of Halloween. There are Halloween decorations or people in costume at nearly every turn, serving as a constant reminder that it’s everyone’s favorite day. The filmmakers clearly know how much horror fans love Halloween (and presumably love it themselves) and aim to give us another film to add to the ever-growing list of annual October viewings. While this sounds good in theory, its execution falls pretty flat.
The movie is around an hour and fifteen minutes long, and much (I mean MUCH) of this time is spent watching the main character walk around. But there are pumpkins! Another significant portion of this short run time consists of a movie-within-a-movie, which is of course a faux 80s slasher. By the time we’ve seen a little of that, it feels like there’s more going on in the fake movie than in the one we’re actually watching.
Honey and spiders do come into play eventually, so at least the title is on point.
I get the “slow burn” approach that Honeyspider is going for, and quite frankly the film often feels like it’s trying to replicate Ti West’s more masterful House of the Devil, but to no avail. There are also obvious influences from John Carpenter’s Halloween, which is mostly felt through the aforementioned shots of the main character walking while being accompanied by melancholy music.
It looks and feels very much like the DIY project that it is. I don’t necessarily fault movies for such budgetary constraints (hell, Found is one of my favorites in recent years), but you have to bring something a little more compelling to the table for my taste.
At least there are spiders.
Honeyspider sets out to be a fun Halloween horror film, but brings little of note to the table beyond constantly reminding us that it’s set during the holiday. Ultimately, it comes off like something you might have made with your friends over the course of a few weekends (if you weren’t afraid to fuck around with tarantulas).