Goodbye Honey ★★★★

With an opening that grabs viewers and pushes them headfirst into the heat of the moment, it’s clear that this film is more than just a standard female-driven thriller story. Featuring a gripping plot and a powerful cast, Goodbye Honey delivers a horrifyingly realistic tale of trauma, revenge and survival.

The film follows Dawn (Pamela Jayne Morgan), a truck driver for a moving company, who pulls into a state park in the middle of the night to briefly rest before completing her delivery trip. But her life is suddenly interrupted when she encounters Phoebe Beenum (Juliette Gobin), a fear-stricken young woman who has recently escaped abduction. Unsure whether to believe Phoebe’s story or not, Dawn eventually agrees to help her after an argument leaves them stranded with nothing but a broken phone and missing keys. Taking shelter in the back of the truck, the two women gradually learn to trust each other in order to survive the long night of danger ahead.

Before the title card even appears, the film introduces viewers to an unknown young woman who is desperately trying to escape from a basement. This introduction, while brief, demonstrates just a sample of the wide range of cinematic techniques that become the film’s greatest tool for creating suspense and tension. With beautifully constructed scenes, which are further heightened deliberately through precise editing, the film preys on the unknown and elegantly layers it with a sense of urgency to evoke deeper sensations.

However, actresses Morgan and Gobin are the key ingredients that bring Goodbye Honey to life. Bringing a sense of life and pain to their characters, both Morgan and Gobin compel viewers to trust them, which is what makes the film’s recipe for distress even more effective. Gobin’s ability to transform the film’s energy the second she enters the frame is particularly remarkable. Together, their captivating performances inject the film with an overwhelming amount of anxiety. To be invested in the story is an understatement; you are there with Dawn and Phoebe.

Filled with twists and turns around every corner, Goodbye Honey meticulously entangles viewers in a terrifying multisensory nightmare that shows a number of very real dangers with some of the most painful scenes being the montages of Phoebe’s time during captivity. Blending themes of trauma and revenge, the film creates a kind of fear that makes you cover your eyes but that you can never fully look away from.

However, much like other modern films that center stories of revenge, survival or revenge, Goodbye Honey simultaneously disrupts and reinforces the narrative of credibility when it comes to female victims of physical and/or mental trauma. This concept is especially visible during a scene between Dawn and Phoebe. After Phoebe finally tells Dawn everything leading up to her abduction, Dawn’s perception suddenly shifts when she realizes the gravity of Phoebe’s story. “You poor thing,” she says, looking at Phoebe in astonishment. Not only does this scene serve as a significant moment of realization for both Dawn and the audience, but it emphasizes the need for the victim, in this case Phoebe, to explain their story in order to earn the trust of characters in the film and viewers.

So Dawn’s sudden change of heart, further emphasizes that Phoebe was not always considered a victim. “You’re a badass, you know that?” Dawn tells Phoebe. “Going through what you went through and then getting yourself here. You’re like a warrior princess or something.” This comment, while certainly reflective of how Dawn and the audience might feel after learning about her abduction, essentially begs the question, ‘so if she’s a badass now, then what was Phoebe before we learned what happened?’

Rather than being a detriment to the film, this line of thought is exactly what makes Goodbye Honey such an effectively evil film. Evoking incredibly powerful emotions, Goodbye Honey will have viewers on the edge of their seat with excitement, curiosity and fear.

One notable scene is when Phoebe comes face-to-face with her abductor, Cass (Paul C. Kelly). “My family doesn’t exist anymore,” Cass tells her, “my job doesn’t exist anymore, I – Why do you get to move on so quickly? What about me? It’s taken me seven years to finally restart my life.” In addition to dramatically shifting the tone, Cass’ lines in this scene speak beyond the moment, lingering quietly in the background as the film comes to a close and viewers sit alongside Dawn and Phoebe.

Taking place in a limited number of locations, similar to that of a play-turned-movie, the film’s ability to command time, space and emotion demonstrates just how well-crafted it truly is. Goodbye Honey is a refreshingly fun and horrifying twist on the female-driven thriller.

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