American copyright on A.A. Milne’s Winnie-The-Pooh expired last year. So, despite Disney controlling much of the IP, there was apparently nothing to stop British writer-director Rhys Frake-Waterfield making a gruesome horror movie in which Pooh and Piglet, abandoned by Christopher Robin, become hulking mutants and slaughter anyone who ventures into the 100 Acre Wood. But just because they could doesn’t mean they should.
The 2019 horror version of kid's TV show The Banana Splits was surprisingly decent, and other children’s classics have worked in dark reboots. There might have been mileage in doing a Pooh which emphasises the Toy Story-like hurt of abandoned childhood friends. But this gets that out of the way before the credits, then becomes an AirBnB slasher. A bunch of young women on a girly weekend in the vicinity of all the disappearances and mutilations are surprised to be ground to pieces in unpleasant torture porn set-pieces.
With the poorest writing and acting seen in a theatrically-released horror film in living memory, this fails on every level.
Frake-Waterfield manages a few nice tilted camera angles and some decent shots of misty English woods, but it all falls apart when characters talk — dialogue sounds improvised or Google-translated – or perform the simplest physical actions. The ‘Scary Pooh’ and ‘Feral Piglet’ masks are creepy at first sight. That wears off with overexposure and it becomes obvious they were the big budget expenditure, since all manner of violence is done but characters take care not to damage the heads they’ll need to reuse in the already-announced sequel.
With the poorest writing and acting seen in a theatrically-released horror film in living memory, this fails on every level. Without the newsworthy copyright glitch, it’d be a pound shop release like Easter Bunny Massacre or The Curse Of Humpty Dumpty. If you control the rights to Paddington, Rupert or Peppa Pig, maybe start working on a charitable trust status to protect them from this sort of thing.