Gretel and Hansel (2020)

Directed by Oz Perkins. Written by Rob Hayes. Starring Sophia Lillis, Sam Leakey, Alice Krige, Jessica De Gouw, Charles Babalola and Fiona O’Shaughnessy.

Plot: a young girl takes her little brother into the woods to find food after their mother kicks them out, but they stumble upon danger in the form of a “supposedly” benevolent old woman.

The prologue of the film tells us the story about “a beautiful child with a pretty pink hat” who becomes ill and is taken to an enchantress to be saved. The enchantress also gives the child powers though, that she then uses to commit dark deeds, even going so far as to kill her own father. She is eventually cast out of the village and left alone in the woods where she begins luring innocent children to their deaths.

Much later, Gretel (Lillis) and her younger brother, Hansel (Leakey), live alone with their negligent mother (O’Shaughnessy). In order to help out, Gretel goes out for a job, but the man turns out to be a perve and she runs away. Her mother doesn’t feel sorry for her at all and threatens to kill Gretel and Hansel both if they stay with her any longer. So, Gretel packs them up and they leave. Eventually, they become very lost and very hungry, so they find what seems to be an empty hut to rest in. However, they are not alone and are soon attacked by a dreadful looking man. Out of nowhere, a hunter (Babalola), rescues them by killing the awful man. In the morning, he gives them a map, tells them about a place they can find work and makes them promise not to deviate from the path. But what kind of movie would it be if they listened?

As they venture on, they begin to starve, and Hansel specifically is enticed by the smell of food coming from a house off the beaten path. Gretel follows him and there they are introduced to an old woman (Krige), who feeds them, gives them a place to sleep and asks for almost nothing in return. Gretel is immediately suspicious of the old woman and begins having vivid nightmares, but Hansel is happy there. Then, the tables turn as the old woman begins teaching Gretel some witchcraft and Hansel ends up wanting to leave.

The story doesn’t end there though, of course. There’s still much more to learn, but I’ll let you learn it on your own. I will say that DJ and I completely disagreed on this film. Why? Well, for one thing, DJ thought it was a lot of feminist bullshit. I don’t even consider myself a feminist really and I didn’t pick up on that at all. DJ also didn’t think there was much of a point, but I can accept that here. While I can’t really pick out the actual point of it all, I still thought it was excellent. DJ didn’t like Hansel or Gretel completely either, and while I thought Hansel a bit worthless, it didn’t upset my opinion overall. The one thing we both agreed on was the hunter. He could’ve been such an outstanding character if he’d been fleshed out. We’re not even sure why they included him at all.

As for me, I thought the movie was well-made, had magnificent acting, quality specials (which were often disgusting) and an exceptional script. It could have been scarier I suppose and I do wish I understood the witch’s motive more. Beyond that, I recommend it as a marvelous piece of story telling, while DJ finds it pretty terrible and does not think you should watch it at all.

My score: 69. DJ’s score: 40.

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