Gretel & Hansel (aKa Gretel & Hansel: A Grim Fairy Tale) is a 2020 horror film directed by Oz Perkins (The Blackcoat’s Daughter & I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House). It’s based on the German folklore tale “Hansel and Gretel” by the Brothers Grimm. It’s written by Rob Hayes (Immaculate Heart, Chewing Gum, Monday, & East Meets Barry West). It’s produced by Brian Kavanaugh-Jones (Insidious franchise, Sinister 1/2, Upgrade, & The Lords of Salem), Fred Berger (The Autopsy of Jane Doe, La La Land, Elizabeth Harvest, & I Think We’re Alone Now), & Jason Cloth (Joker, Child’s Play, Bombshell, & The Way Back) for Orion Pictures. The budget was $5 million & it grossed $21.3 million worldwide at the box office!!!!
A baby that everyone in the village found to be the most precious falls terribly ill one winter. Her father took her to see an enchantress, who removed the illness but left a power within the girl. As she grew older, people in the village went to the girl because she had premonitions of the future. She used her power to kill people including her own father. The child was taken into the woods to be left alone but she lured other children to a grim fate. After their father’s death, teenage Gretel (played by: Sophia Lillis from IT, Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, & Sharp Objects) & her younger brother Hansel (played by: Sam Leakey from MotherFatherSon & Twist) are going to meet a man about a job as a housekeeper but it doesn’t work out.
Her mother (played by: Fiona O’Shaughnessy from Until Death, Alexander, Nina Forever, & Warlock III: The End of Innocence) tells Gretel that she & Hansel must leave because there is no room left in the house threatening to hack Gretel to bits if they don’t leave immediately. A hunter (played by: Charles Babalola from Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, The Legend of Tarzan, & Mary Magdalene) saves the kids after they are left homeless. Hansel wanders around one day until he finds a house that has a cake smell coming from it. Gretel follows as she hears what sounds like a girl’s voice. They are greeted by Holda (played by: Alice Krige from Sleepwalkers, Thor: The Dark World, Deadwood, & Ghost Story). She allows them to sleep there in exchange for work. Things start getting weirder & weirder as time goes on. Gretel realizes Holda is fattening up Hansel to eat him as a sacrifice. She now must save her brother from this vicious & hungry witch. Can these kids make it alive against this real life monster????
Gretel & Hansel definitely stands out from all the other adaptations from over the years. It almost feels like a smaller independent film with an art house vibe to it. If A24 did something with this classic story, it would probably turn out similar to this. The script is solid here but it’s very slow & it takes a long time to get anywhere. You have to be really patient for this one. It has a small cast but everyone delivers for Gretel & Hansel when it comes to the overall performances. Veteran actress Alice Krige is top notch here & it’s cool to see her in a bigger film again. It has a nice creepy atmosphere to it & the music sets the tone for it’s darker finale. Quality wise, I can’t complain about anything for this production but I will say it was a little boring at times especially during the first half. I do enjoy a good slow burn but this one needed to start sooner than it did. I know this one will be hit or miss with most people so I’d honestly recommend renting it before you make a purchase.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation & special features from Warner Bros! This 1080p (1.56:1) transfer really stands out with it’s excellent stylized cinematography & locations. It’s one of the best looking horror movies of the year so far. It has a few audio options which includes English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 & Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 on the release. It sounds good but it does take awhile to really kick in, The dialogue us very clean, all the madness later on is elevated here, & the music has a nice boost to it. It has English SDH & Spanish subtitles. It only has one extra on the disc. The little over 5 minute “Storybook” is an illustrated shortened version of the classic story. I wish it was a little longer but it’s a cool bonus feature. I am surprised that they didn’t have more material on this disc. It also includes a slipcover & a digital code. It’s available everywhere on May 5th, CHECK IT OUT!!!!