goodbye honey | max strand | todd rawiszer | juliette alice gobin | pamela jayne morgan | paul c. kelly | nightmares film festival | nff | better horror | thriller | united states | stacey van gorder | aaron mitchell | peyton michelle edwards | jake laurence
Film: Goodbye Honey
Director: Max Strand
Writer: Todd Rawiszer and Max Strand
Starring: Juliette Alice Gobin, Pamela Jayne Morgan and Paul C. Kelly
This was another film from Nightmares Film Festival. It made its Ohio premiere at the festival. When Jaime was looking through the titles and synopsis of the movies that she was intrigued by, this one caught her attention so we watched it together. This is actually also my second viewing of the film as a screener thanks to Justin Cook as well. The synopsis here is after escaping abduction; a frantic woman must coerce an exhausted truck driver to hide in the back of her truck for the night. The two women take refuge not knowing what the rest of the night has in store.
We start this off with an interesting cold open. There’s a woman that flees down the stairs into a basement of a house. She is trying to find a way out and she is looking for items that she can use to aid in this. We will learn later on that her name is Allison (Peyton Michelle Edwards). When she finally gets the doors to freedom open, something causes her to back up in fear.
We’re then taken to a woman truck driver. Her name is Dawn (Pamela Jayne Morgan). As full disclosure, I thought she was a lesbian to start out. There’s a bumper sticker on the glove box for the passenger seat that states ‘My wife is a nurse’. Later we will learn that her husband used to own this truck and their business. He abruptly passed away and she has taken over due to needing the income for her and her daughter.
She is exhausted. She sees a sign for a state park nearby so she pulls off to sleep for a little bit. Before doing so, she does call the person she is moving the stuff in the back of the truck for to keep them updated on her progress. From what she states, she is ahead of schedule and will make it on time. Things take a turn though when Phoebe Beenum (Juliette Alice Gobin) knocks on her window, asking for help. Dawn isn’t sure what to believe, but the fear is real with the younger woman. She states she escaped from a trunk of a car and that she’s been held captive for months. Dawn doesn’t necessarily believe her story, but can see she is freaked out. This causes Phoebe to rashly grab for her phone, which in turn causes it to break. To make matters worse, Dawn can’t find her keys. Phoebe freaks out that they can’t leave and Dawn calms her that they have to be around here somewhere.
As the night goes on, Dawn hears more of Phoebe’s story. There are a couple of guys who are there to drink and smoke. Dawn starts to believe that maybe the story could be true and is willing to help. Phoebe is convinced whoever she got away from is still out there. Is the fear that Phoebe has real? Is this person still out there? What makes it even crazier though are how they are connected.
Now where I want to start with my analysis on this movie is the fact that the cold open made me think of a lot of troupes you get in horror movies. I’ve seen things like Chained that is a variation on this idea and I mean, before seeing this movie for the first time, I did see Alone which also uses a similar premise. It isn’t new, but what you really need to do is something that is different with the idea.
That’s where I give credit to this movie. This idea is something we don’t see a lot of. Dawn’s character is deep in the sense that she had a path for her life. We learn about the middle of the movie that she was going to nursing school. Her husband tragically passed away so she gave up her dream to ensure her child got everything that she needed. That has her taking over driving this truck, which we learn she hates. There is emotion here though as this belonged to her husband, so it is something she also can’t give up. It also does an interesting thing to strand them. She’s exhausted and can’t find the keys to her truck. We know they have to be around there somewhere, but if Phoebe is to be believed, maybe this person who is watching took them. I thought that worked well in building the tension and the fear.
I even like Phoebe’s back-story. Here shortly I’ll get into why it doesn’t work for me though as well. I like the idea that Phoebe is kidnapped and gets free by fleeing into the woods. There’s even an interesting aspect to this story where Allison, the other young woman that was captured, is her friend. The fear is there in both of these younger women. It also translates over to Dawn. Phoebe and Dawn have interesting interactions when Dawn ends up being humiliated trying to help her. There’s anger there in Phoebe for not helping, but when you’re as terrified as she is, it is hard to blame her. This sparks the growth and change in character we need for both of them. I should also point out; being that this is a thriller our characters can’t immediately believe Phoebe. Seeing what she has endured, that makes me feel bad for her, because not being believed is something that many women struggle with. This makes it even more interesting that it is Dawn, another woman, instead of a male truck driver. I like this change to troupes we normally see.
To get back to what I was saying earlier, my biggest issue here is what happens with Cass (Paul C. Kelly). I’m not going to give away this back-story, as it is through a reveal given by Phoebe explaining what happened to her. What I will say is that I don’t buy it. I get the sadness that he is experiencing and getting his revenge. The problem is that, the blame he is given is misguided. It didn’t work for me and I think there could have been a bit more to raise this stakes to make it work better. What I can say is that blame can be misguided at times for sure.
What I will say though is the acting is good here. Gobin does a great job at showing her fear. I love that we get a bit of her being normal through flashback to show us before she was taken. When we first meet her she’s terrified. The events of the night really make her grow which works. On the other side, we have Morgan. What works with her is that she has a tough exterior and I like as she interacts with Phoebe, the belief grows and the will to help. It also saves her by doing so, but I digress. Kelly doesn’t have a big part in the movie, but once we learn about him, he becomes the face of the constant menace. I did like Rafe Soule and Jake Laurence as Zach and Tyler. They really just a bit part, but they do well in forcing Dawn to grow. The rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed.
The last things to go over briefly would be the effects and the soundtrack. We don’t get a lot in the way of effects, but we also don’t need them. They really go subtle and the use of shadows is good to hide things. I will commend the cinematography there for sure. As for the soundtrack, it didn’t really stand out, but it did fit for what was needed.
Now with that said, I can see another movie where people not find this a horror film. It really is a thriller, but I feel the reveals we get really make it close enough for me to include it. There are some dark elements and where Cass is willing to go to get his revenge. I think that the acting from the two leads really help to carry this movie. Seeing them grow into who they have to be by the end worked for me. There are some tropes here that we see quite a bit, but I like the different take on how they’re used. The cinematography was good. There were some shots that definitely stood out to me. Aside from that, what little we get for the effects were good and the soundtrack fit for what was needed. I’d rate this as an above average movie and would recommend giving it a viewing for sure.
My Rating: 7 out of 10