(Hansel and Gretel Movie)
We saw Gretel & Hansel in theaters and I was pleasantly surprised with something that might not be the most groundbreaking film we’ve ever watched, but it succeeds admirably at breathing new life into this classic Grimm fairy tale.
Gretel & Hansel Trailer
Gretel & Hansel Synopsis
Gretel & Hansel is a reimagining and retelling of; you guessed it, Hansel and Gretel – the classic tale that warns kids not to take candy from strangers. Well, the kids are back and they have a sweet tooth.
This story retains all the crucial elements of the story. There are two kids (Sophia Lillis from IT as Gretel and Samuel Leakey as Hansel) who are unceremoniously kicked out of their house in the times of yore by their mother who can’t afford to feed them.
They kick around the woods for a while, starving and scared, jostled by a world that is cruel and spooky before stumbling upon a house out in the woods.
Well, she is evil.
Gretel & Hansel Review
To me, it is surprising that Gretel and Hansel got as wide a release as it did because it has “current indy horror movie” written all over it. Also January, February, and March of 2020 is about as chalk full of horror as any year that I can recall.
Gretel and Hansel takes a slightly different approach to the classic and makes it a coming of age story for our female protagonist.
This movie drips with aesthetic and I swear to God the witches’ house is made by the same architect as the house from Ex Machina. Very sparse, norse sensibilities are present in the scenes, which, if you are a fan of our show, you know we love the Scandinavians and their sensibilities.
The brooding, doom-laden feel of this movie is a great way to take something as classic as Hansel and Gretel and make me care. Every corner of this film is foreboding and off-feeling.
The lighting is so dark that it reminded me of the Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln flick from 2012. Lots of candles used for lighting made me feel like I was right there with the kids in this strange and terrifying house.
I love the acting and the style that Gretel & Hansel goes with and the atmosphere is dead-on.
My only problem with this movie is that it droops throughout. As far as slow-burns go, this is as slow as they come, and while it works to an extent, I wish they would have stopped chewing the fat and cut some of the more indulgent walks in the woods and dream sequences in favor of keeping my attention.
At 87 minutes, it’s a pretty short movie, but I feel it could have easily been 70 minutes, and it would have felt very appropriate.
Click to Expand Spoilers
Backstory on the witch
The movie starts describing the origin of the witch. There is a gifted child, and an illness befalls her. The father of the child is told to be brave against the darkness and takes the girl to be healed. The child is gifted with something called “second sight”. She is healed, but the gift of healing comes with an unseen curse.
This little girl, the witch, is evil. She kills her dad and others in the village before she is taken out into the woods and banished.
Here we are given the tagline of the movie, “Beware gifts because those that offer them might mess you up hardcore.”
The World is a Cruel, Scary Place
The kid’s mom is not a nice lady. Actually, she is legit nuts. She aggressively pushes her kids out of the house and into a world that wants nothing more than to gobble them up.
There are close calls, zombies, and a bunch of menacing figures in the background who are swallowed up by the thick, milky mist.The atmosphere is bleak and terrifying, and it works really well.
The Witches House and Possible Anti-Semitism
Eventually, the kids stumble across the witch’s house, and just like everything else in this movie, it’s dripping with aesthetic.
The door of the house is made up of a Star of David pattern, which really flipped a switch in my brain. An evil person who steals and eats children has the Star of David patterned across her door?
The house is sparse and dark, lit only by candles – it’s also hard to tell exactly how large it is. In the secret room that is hidden below the house, there is also a candelabra or bastardized Menorah that makes an appearance.
How is Gretel & Hansel Different than Hansel and Gretel?
Gretel & Hansel is a coming of age story for Gretel, instead of an outright warning against accepting gifts. The gift being given in this movie is the gift of womanhood or femininity.
The witch is out to trap Gretel in her web of femininity by appealing to her with power and knowledge. She eats kids, not only to gain powers and stay super witchy but to build a tolerance to the thing that is a poison to her – children or motherhood.
She offers Gretel the knowledge and powers that she has but warns her that she too must eat her poison to gain resistance to her own poison. Gretel’s poison is the onus of taking care of her brother, so it’s time to eat Hansel.
Gretel burns the witch and Hansel makes it out alive – SHOCKER.
If you enjoy foreboding, spooky aesthetics and great camera work this is a great choice. It’s an even better choice if you don’t mind a story that moves very slowly.