When their mother descends into madness, siblings Gretel and Hansel must fend for themselves in the dark and unforgiving woods. Hungry and scared, they fortuitously stumble upon a bounty of food left outside an isolated home. Invited inside by the seemingly friendly owner, the children soon suspect that her generous but mysterious behaviour is part of a sinister plan to do them harm.
Plot: A long time ago in a distant fairy tale countryside, a young girl leads her little brother into a dark wood in desperate search of food and work, only to stumble upon a nexus of terrifying evil.
Director: Oz Perkins
Aspect Ratio: 1.55:1
Runtime: 87 min
Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Gretel & Hansel‘s rich visuals satisfy, even if this adaptation of a classic fairytale gets a little lost in the woods on the storytelling front.
“The scariest fairytale ever told.”
The film starts with a story about a baby that everyone in the village loved falling terribly ill. Her father took her to see an enchantress who removed the illness but left a power within the children. As she grew older, people in the village confided in the young girl because she had premonitions of the future. Instead of helping, the child used her power to kill people. Once people caught on, the child was taken into the woods to be left alone, but she instead lured other children to their deaths (with a smile on her face).
Cue the main story. After their father’s death, Gretel and her younger brother Hansel are going to meet a man about a job as a housekeeper. When Gretel meets with the man, he makes his true intentions clear when he asks if she’s still a virgin. Feeling unsafe, the two leave without a job and return home. Upon returning, the siblings’ mother scolds Gretel for not doing what she had to do to get a job and help provide for them. She then kicks them out of the house threatening to hack them to bits if they don’t leave immediately. Scared and confused, the two of them flee their home and find a hut to sleep in for the night.
Mix in a few scary moments and uneasy scenes away from home, Hansel wanders toward a house that has a cake smell coming from it.
What happens next? What could go wrong? You’ll have to check out the film to find out.
In conclusion —
I went back to the tweet I sent out regarding my initial thoughts after seeing this movie in theater. This is what I said: “This movie moves and feels like a classic horror-fairytale. It’s A24-esque visually, but it’s missing plot to really compare it to the horror films A24 is producing. I think 30 more minutes and an R rating would have really helped elevate the nightmares and story.”
After watching it a second time last night, I’m sticking to my guns on this one.
This movie takes a simple fairytale and turns it into a nightmare — it’s uniquely and organically done, you have to give the film props for that. On another high note; the cinematography, production design, sound and set design were outstanding. The visuals are insanely rich and that helped create the eerie feeling the director was pushing for. The sense of dread and uneasiness created an atmosphere that carries you through the darker tones, but I still wanted more.
Diving deeper into the nightmare with more time would’ve given room to enhance the best things this film had going for it; that’s why I said “30 minutes and an R rating.” I can’t help but imagine what it could’ve been with more plot and extended scenes of pure horror the R rating would’ve allowed. Maybe I have a dark mind-set, but all the pieces were there… this movie could have been a cult-classic.
Lastly, this movie has one special feature on it and that’s entitled “Storybook.” It’s a 5 minute comic told in Chapters about the fairytale being shown in the movie. Very simple, but a nice little feature showcasing the entire film in a 5 minute short.
Taking everything I’ve said into account, Gretel & Hansel gets my recommendation for purchase (with a caveat) only if you’re a fan of horror. In my opinion I think all fans of the genre will, at the very least, appreciate this film for what it is. It is a bit-bland, but I don’ think you’d be completely disappointed if you try to sit back and enjoy it. Do yourself a favor, grab a copy at your local retailer on Blu-ray today.
Are you a fan of Gretel & Hansel? Will you be picking it up to own? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
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