[Review] Gretel and Hansel (2020)
Gretel and Hansel – A long time ago in a distant fairy tale countryside, a mother descends into madness. Her children, Gretel (Sophia Lillis) and Hansel (Sammy Leakey) now 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 by a terrifying evil. Invited inside by this evil, disguised as the seemingly friendly owner, the children soon suspect that her generous but mysterious behavior is part of a sinister plan to do them harm.
Gretel & Hansel (also known as Gretel & Hansel: A Grim Fairy Tale) is a 2020 dark fantasy horror film based on the German folklore tale Hansel and Gretel by the Brothers Grimm. The film is directed by Oz Perkins and produced by Fred Berger, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, and Dan Kagan, which also had a screenplay by Rob Hayes. Sophia Lillis and Sam Leakey portray the title characters, alongside Charles Babalola, Jessica De Gouw, and Alice Krige. The story follows Gretel and Hansel as they enter a dark wood in order to find work and food, and stumble upon the home of an evil witch.
I have been waiting for this one to come out ever since I saw the first trailer last year. Partly because I’m a huge fan of dark fairy tales and partly because I love all things horror. But I think my main reason was the fact that Oz Perkins was behind the directing, and I really loved his “The Blackcoat’s Daughter” and “I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House” movies and was excited to see what he would do with this fairy tale.
This is a new spin on an old tale. It’s basically about a brother and sister named Hansel and Gretel (or Gretel and Hansel if you want to keep things straight) who are from a very poor family. After Gretel fails to acquire a job, her mother accuses her of not doing her share and forces both children out into the lonely dark forest to fend for themselves. As they attempt to survive on their own, desperately trying to find work and nearly half-starved, they come across a mysterious old house in the woods. Enticed by the luxurious smells from within they go up to the door, unbeknownst to them that an evil old woman lives there.
When she feeds them huge amounts of delicious food, they end up offering her their services to help out with the chores and work around her house. They learn that the old woman who lives there is named Holda (Alice Kringe) and she eventually takes them up on their offer. As they gorge on the food Hansel is promised that he will be trained as a woodsman so that he can earn his way, while Gretel is promised to be taught the old witches ways of magic. However, she quickly realizes that things are not what they seem and soon enough Gretel becomes tormented with the fact that this woman is actually a child-eating witch with evil powers.
I’m not going to go into a lot of details on the plot because I think most anyone can get the just of it, but I have to say, I really liked this film, a lot. It’s beautifully done, dark, foreboding, and suspenseful in every way. This truly felt like an incredibly dark occult fairy tale coming to life on the big screen. Because of the excellent cinematography, there are many scenes in this movie that are simply breath-taking, just absolutely gorgeous. There are also many images that are downright creepy. To be honest, there were very few shots in the entire film that didn’t look grim and perfect.
As much as I liked the film, I believe they could have done even more with it, that by making it PG-13, only ended up hurting it in the long run. The horror elements could have definitely been pushed even further at that point. I also feel this film will not be for everyone, as it’s not your traditional horror film style that you’d expect to see in the theaters, especially in January. It’s more suited for something along the lines of those shown at film festivals. Because of this, I think most people will be writing it off as a badly made movie when in truth, it’s brilliantly done and deserves a chance.
If I HAD to pick something to nitpick about, I think it would be over some of the dialog and the accents. I’m honestly not sure what type of accent they were going for because sometimes Hansel’s felt right and you could hear a clear accent, but then Gretel had none at all. Like they were noticeably born in two different countries. They should have had her use an accent because not doing so clearly became distracting, and totally took me out of the intended period settings. Also one scene, in particular, I found hilarious was when the witch knocks a glass onto the floor and says, “another one bites the dust”. Funny, but it completely spoiled the scene.
All in all, Gretel and Hansel was a visually beautiful film from beginning to end. It had its slow moments but I really like slow-burns for the most part. If you enjoyed movies like the Hereditary, Witch, and Midsommar, then there’s a very good chance you will like this one as well. Keep in mind, this is an arthouse film plain and simple. This isn’t your ordinary Conjuring or IT, type of film, it’s one that will allow you to have a few lingering thoughts once you leave the theater. I can highly recommend this film, but not to just anyone. It requires a specific taste and understanding to be truly appreciated…like fine wine.
Title: Gretel & Hansel
Release Date: January 31, 2020
Runtime: 1 hour, 27 minutes
Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Thriller
Studio: Orion Pictures
Starring: Sophia Lillis, Alice Krige, Jessica De Gouw
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Director(s): Osgood (Oz) Perkins
Reviewed by: Grim Magazine
Our Rating: 3.8 /5
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