Despite what the film’s title suggests, audiences had every reason to worry Don’t worry honey. This film faced an endless barrage of controversies surrounding a fired lead actor, on-stage conflicts between the director and the star, and a piece of spit allegedly sent in Chris Pine’s direction. Of course, with a story like that, a movie about the making of this movie would be much better than what we got. But putting aside the endless headlines surrounding this psychological thriller, the final product is a decently enjoyable ride that offers enough of the genre’s thrills to be watchable while not doing much else.
Director Olivia Wilde pulls us back to the 1950s with vividness and deliberate color choices that feel like a product of their time. This is an upper-class society where women are stay-at-home wives who send their successful husbands off to work with a kiss while they cook, clean and go to dance practice. They learn about beauty in symmetry and they move as one. With this concept, Wilde and author Katie Silberman create a fascinating world that feels a little unmanageable.
However, there are many themes in this film around feminism Don’t worry honey doesn’t exactly beat you over the head with it. Still, it’s pretty clear what Wilde and Silberman wanted to say about how women are expected to remain within the safety of the men who provide for them, rather than questioning authority. The film has real-world parallels around women being silenced while men are passionate about them, while also using a character portrayed by Gemma Chan as a symbol of the women who stand by and allow men to get away with this behavior. They’re all interesting concepts to explore in a horror film. Like Jordan Peele uses horror to portray racial issues in Go outWilde tries the same with gender issues.
Does it work too? Not exactly. Wilde’s themes and depictions of it feel like they’ve already been dealt with The Stepford Wives. Sometimes it seems like Don’t worry honey has nothing new to add to the conversation about gender roles. That being said, it is challenging to write societal issues into a genre film without coming off as preachy. This film tries to avoid that, but the message is clear – especially in the film’s final act, which pulls back the curtain on what’s going on behind the scenes.
This is a mystery thriller with some steamy moments. Cutting between scenes of Harry Styles going down on Florence Pugh and strange, haunting ballet images can be jarring. The visuals can feel scattered at times, and there’s little context to it all, even after the movie gives you its explanation. Furthermore, when something scary happens, the film will generally cut to Alice (Pugh) waking up with a start. As a result, it only sometimes feels like she’s in imminent danger in the real world because all the threats arise in her mind.
Pugh acts circles around everyone else in this movie. Styles is passable for most of the film, but his performance elicited a few giggles from my audience during his more intense scenes. Despite its problems and occasional ludicrous moments, Don’t worry honey does what it intends to do. Unfortunately, this is less strong than Wilde’s directorial debut Book smart. Still, there’s great sound design and an action-packed final sequence that feels mostly satisfying, even if the resolution could be better than you’d hoped for. It’s a watchable movie, but don’t worry if you miss it in theaters.
Like ComingSoon’s audit policy explains, a score of 6 corresponds to “Decent”. It fails to reach its full potential and is a thorough experience.