Abduction films are a whole class unto their own. You watch enough and you’ll start to notice familiar beats with each viewing. So, when a film in that subgenre comes around that twists it around so that you’re not sure what is going to happen next, it’s difficult not to be excited. GOODBYE HONEY, the latest from director Max Strand, certainly does this. In an abduction thriller with many layers, you’ll be taken down a path where you question what is truth and what is fantasy until the film’s third climactic act. Holding it together are the performances delivered by its cast.
GOODBYE HONEY is directed by Max Strand, who co-wrote the script with Todd Rawiszer. The film stars Juliette Alice Gobin (Look At Me), Pamela Jayne Morgan (“The Girl in the Attic”), Paul C. Kelly (Land of Smiles), Peyton Michelle Edwards (She Came From The Woods), and Rafe Soule (Menagerie). GOODBYE HONEY is a tale of two women, one who is trying to escape from her captor and the other who is trapped by the memory of her dead husband and is in dire need of shuteye. After escaping from being abducted, a young woman (Juliette Alice Gobin) runs across a trucker (Pamela Jayne Morgan) who is trying to get some sleep at a rest stop in a state park. As the night and situation progress, it becomes a guessing game as to whether or not we can trust the young woman or if she is, perhaps, entirely crazy.
Events start off intensely, with the focus on a young woman in red (Peyton Michelle Edwards) trying frantically to escape from something. The way the scene is shot, we are left without any answers except that, whatever has taken this woman hostage, is no one good. We cut to Dawn, a long-haul trucker that is in desperate need of rest. This is a nice lull in action from the opening scene as it helps lure us into a false sense of calm before things start to get weird. And, as soon as poor Dawn finally gets a chance to close her eyes, she is interrupted by a panicked young woman claiming to need help. From there, it’s a tension-ridden mystery as the story’s layers get peeled back.
Where the story really sells itself is in having us guess whether or not the young woman has been truly abducted or if she’s crazy. And a huge part of that has to do with the performance conveyed by Juliette Alice Gobin as the young woman, Phoebe. Strand’s direction for her and Pamela Jayne Morgan in their scenes amplifies this as the two play off of each other well. Even more so when taking into account Morgan’s character Dawn, who comes across as the audience’s eyes and ears. As she learns more about this strange girl and the developing situation, so do we. And Morgan’s delivery upon realizing these truths mirrors what the audience should be feeling at that moment.
Another good addition to the story was the whole tense standoff between Dawn and the two young men (Jake Laurence and Rafe Soule). Soule really conveys a truly unhinged portrayal of a young man high on his own supply. And, quite honestly, I would have been 100% convinced that he was the true villain of GOODBYE HONEY. The layout of this whole sequence really served to heighten the actual danger Dawn was putting herself in and how truly vulnerable and defenseless she was. And the twist at the end of that series of events between Dawn and Phoebe really hits hard due in part to what Dawn just had to go through.
Where I give pause is the actual abductor himself and his motivation. While the overall story itself ties up all the loose ends to create a giant wallop of a punch in that final act, I questioned the believability of why the character had, from start to finish, done all of this. Part of this may hinge on Paul C. Kelly’s performance, but also the character development in the script itself. At the end of the day, though, GOODBYE HONEY focuses on its two protagonists and their development throughout the course of the film. While the abductor himself has his own goals, it’s not awful that it would be less developed when he’s not the primary focus.
What I definitely have to commend the team on is the utilization of the moving truck as the primary location for GOODBYE HONEY. Something that we consider big and looming ends up transforming into several things – a refuge, a prison, a battleground. And it ends up housing the biggest clue of all towards us figuring out the mystery behind Phoebe’s story. Couple this truck with the large space outside, with the trees and dark shifting shadows when you look out of the truck, it’s difficult not to feel the isolation and danger that our two ladies are feeling as they try to figure out the situation at hand. Great job.
Overall, GOODBYE HONEY is a strong addition to the abduction film genre, delivering twists and turns that make us question our abductee’s motivations until all gets revealed. While the motivation of the abductor seems thin at best, we all know that sometimes the most fragile of motivations is all one needs to commit a heinous act. Making use of the truck and the campground around it helped amplify certain feelings throughout the course of the film. Taking us through a variety of emotions, Max Strand’s GOODBYE HONEY is definitely one you need to add to your list.
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