Honeydew is a deliciously gross-out movie with a horrifying twist ending that stems from the same bleak place as Kevin Smith’s Tusk.
In Devereux Milburn’s tasty vision Honeydew, two twenty-somethings make the unfortunate decision to camp out on someone’s farmland. When the farmer demands they leave in the middle of the night, they find themselves firmly in the middle of a rural nightmare. Forced to rely on the kindness of strangers, and I use that term loosely, they prepare to stay the night with an older woman and her adult son. Both of them are missing some faculties, but they seem nice enough until halfway through the film, the wheels come off, and everything takes an even stranger turn.
Rylie is a college student researching a wheat fungus for her doctorate thesis. It is the reason the two find themselves out in small-town America. It’s heavily implied the family that takes Rylie(Malin Barr) and Sam(Sawyer Spielberg) has flown the coop because of the same wheat fungus Rylie is there to find. Lingering shots of baked goods that look too good to be true and hand-milled wheat grains shown early in the film lead to the conclusion that this family has been eating tainted wheat for a long time. It’s either that or the family has one too many genetic, mental illnesses. Regardless, it’s bad news for Sam and Rylie, who eventually become the next juicy course. Here’s everything you need to know about the fungus and that overstuffed ending.
What happens at the end of Honeydew?
At the end of Honeydew, Sam and Rylie join the ranks of Karen’s(Barbara Kingsley) daughter. Karen, Eulis, and Gunni have been cannibals for a while, judging by the limbs that the daughter is missing. They keep her fed, eating someone’s flesh(probably Gunni’s) and dipping it in lemonade for unknown reasons. She has no arms and is missing half of each leg. She lives inside a wooden box, waiting for her mother to butcher another body part or feed her lemon-flavored meat.
Sam and Rylie get tied up and try to escape but ultimately are unsuccessful. They are lobotomized by Eulis and are fed high-calorie meals full of human protein, I’m assuming, so they can later be harvested for meals. The final shot shows Rylie sitting at the table with Gunni gaining weight and watching cartoons while Sam and their daughter eat on a bed in the basement. They are also fed meals, and both are missing limbs. The madness cycle will continue until the elderly farmers die or run out of meat and have to kill again.
Is Sordico real?
Not all mushrooms are magical or edible. Most of them won’t cause you to eat your family, though. The entirely fictional wheat fungus Sordico Rylie is researching for her thesis does have a basis in reality. Proving nature is scarier than fiction, there are a few fungi that can cause sickness and mental illness. Ergot is an actual fungus that can cause madness and extreme sickness in animals and humans alike. Named for the French word argot, meaning spur, it invades rye primarily. It has been around for a very long time.
As far back as 600 BC, Assyrians noted a noxious pustule on wheat grains. It wasn’t until 200 years ago that the fungus was recognized as dangerous. Convulsions, seizures, tremors, and hallucinations are all possible. It has been around since medieval times and was often thought of as a devil or witch’s curse more than a medical ailment. There is some speculation that ergotism may be responsible for the group mania that created the Salem Witch Trials. The hallucinatory fungus was initially used to make LSD but is no longer used due to its potentially deadly properties.
There are two types of ergot poisoning. They are convulsive and gangrenous ergotism. In convulsive ergotism, the victim may hallucinate, seize, shake, and have their muscles constrict in painful ways. In the gangrenous type, extremities rot and fall off. Perhaps, Eulis and Karen are showing Sam and Rylie kindness by hacking off the infected limbs. Probably not, plus cannibalism also can contribute to mental illness, so this shouldn’t be a long-term solution.
Ergotism is not the only fungus that we should be worried about. Yeast infections can also destroy the brain. Additionally, scientists believe1.5 million fungi species exist, but they have only identified 70,000. The number of fungal infections in the brain has grown each year which means that although Sordico doesn’t exist, there are plenty of things that haven’t been discovered yet we should be terrified of.
Zombie ants and fungus
Ophiocordyceps Unilateralis is a fungus that lives in the rain forest of Central and South America. It infects ants, spiders, and other insects. It turns them into zombies that help propagate the fungus’ life cycle. The ant grows the fungus and later releases the spores over the ant community on the ground. The poor ant has its mind hijacked into leaving its home and climbing up to the perfect height for the spores to grow and rain death on everything below. This fungus is the basis for the apocalyptic disease in The Last Of Us, but luckily scientists believe it is unlikely this fungus could zombify humans. Unless you are immunocompromised, the fungus should not be able to take over your body. In fact, it is used to make anti-rejection drugs for organ transplant patients.
Honeydew is a fun slice of rural horror with a side of man meat, and not the sexy kind. Milburn’s movie is a fresh take on the Deliverance theme with an interesting premise and unforgettable imagery. If you like kooky characters and fully developed set pieces, Honeydew is perfect. It is out on VOD everywhere today.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.