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  Honeymoon Phase, The Marriage Lines
Year: 2019
Director: Phillip G. Carroll Jr
Stars: Jim Schubin, Chloe Carroll, Francois Chau, Tara Westwood, Mike Sutton, Michael Wetherbee, Linda Horwatt, Ione Butler, Daniel Fakih, Brenda Crawley, Kayla Anthony, Ben Samuels, Brielle Rickards, Michael Everett Johnson, Tariq James Arthur
Genre: Horror, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Tom (Jim Schubin) has a story to tell of his late wife, who committed suicide, he says, on their wedding day. How could such a tragedy occur? He traces it back to an experiment that he and his then-girlfriend Eve (Chloe Carroll) took part in, which they should never have tried; they needed money so he could support his career as a budding writer and she hers as a designer, so when they heard about a scientist (Francois Chau) who was conducting investigations into newlyweds, they decided to pose as exactly that to get their hands on a substantial sum. Nobody would know they had not really tied the knot, and the month would be over with sooner than they thought, so where was the harm? But harm there was, they were unaware of what was going on...

The Honeymoon Phase was the first feature, after some shorts, from director Phillip G Carroll Jr who on this evidence tended to wear his influences on his sleeve. This was not quite one of those movies where you were mentally ticking off what had been lifted from where, but there was a touch of The Cabin in the Woods about it here, some of The Shining there, even a bit of Coma and all those television episodes of science fiction where one character finds themselves tussling with an evil double, either of themselves or of someone else. So there was an air of familiarity about this that was difficult to shake, at least if you were concentrating on the plot - visually it was a different matter, and although not groundbreaking, Carroll had a good eye for the slick sheen.

We were ostensibly being told this tale by a grieving Tom, but actually the main character who we begin to identify with was Eve, played by the director's wife and keeping her Northern English accent which alone made her stand out as someone unusual in a genre indie, never mind a bigger budget effort. Once the couple are in their "cabin", a swanky cottage away from it all that they have been taken to under sedation (alarm bells should start to ring here), all seems to be going well, with an equivalent of a Star Trek food replicator to attend to their every need. There may be cameras around the corners of rooms, but that can be coped with, and soon the pair are getting up to what comes naturally to young couples, though Eve finds her boyfriend a little too enthusiastic (and hasty) all of a sudden which has him enjoying the experience far more than her.

It is at this point where the question of who has a say in who controls women's own bodies arises, an important topic in the news that the film doesn't quite get a handle on. Should Eve have a say in what happens to her physically, or should her boyfriend (or husband), or should it be the orders of the medical community that decide? In truth, this is a bit too much for what winds up as a sci-fi horror to get to grips with, especially as the questions it raises don't have clear answers as they are muddled with twist upon twist, but if you were prepared to simply watch this as a genre item that briskly goes about its business with a sleek appearance that belies its slender means, then it was perfectly fair entertainment. It benefitted from Mrs Carroll's sympathetic performance which kept the emotional focus on Eve, and there was the odd bit of nastiness to prove it had bite when needed, though the conclusion, when it eventually arrived, was probably too bleak in a seventies sci-fi way to be dramatically ideal. Something else very seventies sci-fi - Eve and Tom's uniforms. Music by Chris Ryan.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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