“Honeyspider” is a new indie horror flick from writer and producer Kenny Caperton and producer/director Josh Hasty . The 2014 project serves as a rejuvenation of classic late 70’s, early 80’s films, and it is masterfully executed. There’s a great balance between the retro feel and inventive techniques, sprinkles of humor, and a terrific atmosphere, the combination of which spin an intricate, delightful tale.
The film follows Jackie Blue (Mariah Brown), a college student struggling with classes, work, and her parents’ separation. It’s Halloween, 1989, coincidentally Jackie’s birthday. She’s in no celebratory mood, however, but it’s more than the stress of familial problems and school. Jackie’s Halloween becomes increasingly frightening, filled with peculiar dreams, spiders, and a strange professor (Frank J. Aard).
“Honeyspider” retains a distinctly retro feel, evoking classic horror movies like John Carpenter’s 1978 “Halloween.” This comes as no surprise, considering writer and producer Kenny Caperton’s dedicated recreation of the Michael Myers abode. Like Carpenter’s memorable flick, there’s a methodical pacing that establishes tension. Provocative camera work lends the sense of a sinister presence hiding just unseen. Additionally, protagonist Jackie draws some undeniable similarities to strong heroines like Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), and Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp, “A Nightmare On Elm Street”). Poor Jackie just wants a relaxing night, and instead she’s plagued by bizarre visions, spiders, and dead bodies.
Further fostering the throwback atmosphere is the actual setting. Filming locations include the aforementioned Myers House, as well as a gorgeous old cinema, The Gem Theatre in Kannapolis, North Carolina. Jackie drives an old Volkswagen Beetle, a throwback vehicle for sure. A corded phone even makes an appearance, and there’s a cool shot in the projection booth featuring an actual film print.
Similarities to past films however pay homage, rather than copying. “Honeyspider” bursts forth with innovation, and really freshens up the genre. There’s a surprising, and much appreciated, dose of humor peppered into the narrative. It’s subtle comedy, as opposed to slapstick found in “The Evil Dead” and “Scream.” While Jackie is working the concession counter at the theatre, each customer steals something without consequence, a hilarious sequence. It’s witty snippets like this that make “Honeyspider” so unique.
A particularly clever inclusion is the fictitious “Sleepover Slaughterhouse III,” which presents as a movie within a movie. It plays heavily on horror tropes, including the obligatory topless scene, a silent masked killer, and even an Ouija board. Plus, the name suggests it’s one entry in a never-ending franchise. The movie jumps seamlessly between “Honeyspider” and “Sleepover Slaughterhouse III,” and the theatre-goers are pretty funny. One audience member, Jackson (David Hensley) keeps making unsuccessful moves on his date, comical segments in between the film within a film.
Overall, “Honeyspider” is an imaginative, unique tribute to the horror films we’ve grown up loving. There are recognizable elements borrowed from beloved slashers, but a hearty dose of originality. Notably, the music is an underrated, but phenomenal aspect. The title derives from a Smashing Pumpkins track of the same name, the “Monster Mash” plays, and the finale features a haunting dream sequence. A disturbingly relaxing piano piece compliments eerie, black and white imagery. What truly sets “Honeyspider” apart is the way the supernatural components aren’t fully elucidated. This leaves much to the imagination, which enhances the creepiness. Currently, “Honeyspider” is making various special screenings, including an awesome drive-in showing at the Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre in Henderson, NC. Stay updated on the “Honeyspider” website, as it’s a delectably fresh horror flick, one you’ll certainly want to catch.