Other Worlds Review: The Honeymoon Phase

Social experiment becomes sci-fi horror about abusive relationships

Life can be tough for a new couple. Tom (Jim Schubin) and Eve (Chloe Carroll) aren't at the marrying point yet, but they're confident they can fool a research project that they're together for the long haul. After all, the $50,000 on offer to seal themselves into a house/lab for a month will go a long way to building a future together.

In the debut feature from writer/director Phillip G. Carroll Jr., the focus is less on the couple than on Eve, who now has to really get to know her fake husband. Of course, something is awry – but is it just that Tom is really enjoying this break from the real world, or does she not know the man in bed next to her as well as she though she did?

The ingenious mechanism of sealing the pair into a luxurious single environment plays into all the cost-saving benefits of a sealed bottle drama, but also emphasizes the intimacy and claustrophobia that binds the couple together. As the seeming real subject of the experiment and the only one to see Tom's changing nature in person (the researchers taking the Observation Effect into account, seen only as holograms), Chloe Carroll's Eve runs the gamut of emotions, from (pre)marital bliss to despair and panic. Deeply involved with the development of the script with her husband Phillip, she catches all of Eve's hope and terror in a fearless performance.

Yet The Honeymoon Phase isn't just an SF version of Sleeping With the Enemy. Influenced as much by the vulnerable horror of When a Stranger Calls as the dystopian future tech of Demon Seed, it grapples with a complicated jumble of themes that are often mishandled by being separated out. There are questions of trust, identity, spousal abuse, deception, differing expectations, and emotional incompleteness, all contained within a narrative that creates a terrifying – and all too recognizable – world in which men expect the women in their lives to fulfill their emotional needs.

The Honeymoon Phase

Other Worlds, Dec. 8
Closing Night Film

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Other Worlds Austin, OWA, Other Worlds 2019, The Honeymoon Phase, Jim Schubin, Chloe Carroll, Phillip G. Carroll Jr.

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