Gretel and Hansel (2020) Movie Review
Oz Perkins (as Osgood Perkins)
This weekend, if you don’t feel like seeing/renting Trolls World Tour for the 15th time in the past 24 hours because your “children” just keep wanting to watch it over and over without any regard for how these rental fees might add up and cut into their college education but it really doesn’t matter because colleges will never ever reopen and because we’ll all be trapped in our houses forever and even if we weren’t you know in your heart of hearts that your kids aren’t smart enough to get into any good colleges –
Wait. Why did you put “children” in parentheses?
Because it’s about time they find out their were adopted, just plucked out of a Philippine adoption agency for pennies on the dollar.
These kids are white. How were they in a Filipino adoption agency?
But if you’re stuck with them for much longer, you’re just going to go mad. Not because they’re bad kids, but because you can only watch Trolls f*cking World Tour so many times.
Or, and I’m just spit balling here, you can say you’re going to get them Trolls, or Sonic The Hedgehog, and “accidentally” put on last January’s very quietly released Gretel and Hansel.
They could watch it, and if they’re sufficiently traumatized tell them that’s what will happen to them if they don’t start behaving themselves. At the very least, you’ll have some peace and quiet for the next 90 minutes before you waste money and time watching Doolittle: Iron Man 12 because your kids want to see Robert Downey Jr. play Iron Man while talking to some crocheting monkeys or whatever they are.
Either way, Gretel and Hansel is a diverting enough movie worth at least a 90 minute commitment. Those of you expecting a truly scary retelling of the famous children’s story by George Foreman and the Brothers Grimm (Owen and Luke or Chris and Liam, I’m not sure which brothers) will be severely disappointed.
At least it’s something different before you’re forced to hear Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick sing songs about being a team player or tying your shoes or whatever they sing about.
Gretel And Synopsis
You've heard the story…
Gretel and Hansel opens with voice-over that’s meant to sound soothing but comes across like your creepy Uncle telling you about his favorite cigarette lighter and he’d love to tell you about it if you’d just sit on his lap for a spell.
Speaking of spell…
Gretel and Hansel opens again with story about a very sick baby and her daddy that loves her so much that he’s will to do anything to cure her. The baby will die if she doesn’t get help soon.
Dad goes into the Dark Forest (it’s not really called the Dark Forest but every movie of this ilk has a forest that’s dark) and with the Enchantress of the Woods (I’m not sure that’s what she’s called but every movie of this ilk has some kind of woman called the Dark Lady of the Woods or the Enchantress of the Woods). She agrees to cure the little girl.
Dad is grateful. Dad is happy to have his little baby girl back that is completely cured by the woman from the woods and there are no negative repercussions whatsoever because if you can’t trust a woman that lives alone in the woods, then really, who can you trust?
It turns out that the little girl was cured, but the Enchantress of the woods left, or discovered, something inside the little girl that should have been left in the woods.
Darn. I thought everything would be okay after seeing the solitary woman that lives in the woods.
The little girl has a second sight. It turns out she has powers from the dark side some would call…unnatural.
Is that from Revenge of the Sith?
After losing her father in a way some would call unnatural, the girl, now older, makes her way to the forest. Legend has it she found the Enchantress of the woods and discover ways to develop her powers in ways some would call…
Yes. And that’s the end of this little prologue. This movie’s called Gretel and Hansel. What could it POSSIBLY do with the rest of the story?
I bet the little girl from the prologue grows up to be the witch in the woods that lure Gretel and Hansel to their doom.
Well, you’d be wrong.
Gretel and Hansel opens again with a different voice-over. This time it’s a preteen Nancy Drew named Gretel (Sophia Lillis, who played the young Jessica Chastain in It Chapter One and, oddly enough, the young James McAvoy in It Chapter Two).
Gretel is a forward thinking young woman, which doesn’t seem anachronistic at all. She rolls around with her little brother Hansel (Samuel Leakey “Jackson”). They do everything together, like run around in the woods, gather wood for the fire, and try not to die of starvation.
Gretel and Hansel and their mother (Don Cheadle) need money. We’re told there was a father but he’s no longer in the picture because he died of an STD stemming from relations some would call…unnatural.
Gretel has an interview as a maid but because she won’t capitulate to a sinister old man’s (Harvey Weinstein) requests (it’s exactly what you’re thinking) she doesn’t get the job. #MeToo
Gretel comes back home without the job and no prospects for money. Her mother (Robert Pattinson- High Life) is so kind and understanding that she nearly cuts Gretel’s head off with an ax. She throws them both out and is busy writing her mother of the year award speech because the criteria for that award was a lot laxer back then.
Now Gretel and Hansel are alone and hungry in the woods. They find a place to squat, and except for menacing hairless guy trying to violate Gretel it’s a pretty uneventful night. They’re saved from the hairless rapist by a huntsman (not Chris Hemsworth) that feeds them and may provide them with a way of life, providing they get through the woods to the secret huntsman/forester headquarters without dying or running into an evil witch who wants to kill them by luring them with processed sugars.
Hansel is eager to be a huntsman.
Gretel is eager start living her own life. Start telling her own story.
All they have to do is find the foresters. It’s quite a hike, but they’re both determined.
And they’re both hungry. Good thing there’s an old dark house randomly in the middle of the forest. Gretel looks inside and sees a table set with all types of foods you’d definitely see in the middle of the forest. Hansel sees cakes, cakes, and more cakes. Hansel will die of diabetes if the witch doesn’t kill him.
An old lady (Alice Krige, the creepy lady from Silent Hill, the creepy thing in Sleepwalkers, the creepy Borg in Star Trek, the creepy mom in The OA, makes you wonder who she could possibly be playing) invites them in for some dinner and dessert. Maybe spend the night.
You think you know the story…
What Works With Gretel and Hansel
- Unexpectedly amazing special effects make for the most disturbing meal of 2020. You’ll know it when you see it. You’ll want to eat it…until you really, really don’t. Keep a bucket near you because you’ll probably need it.
- Final act hijinks make the first hour of the movie more than worth a watch. It’s not that the first two acts are necessarily bad, it’s just that…more on that in the next section.
- Production designer Jeremy Reed makes every scene something interesting to look at, even if it’s darkly lit. You’ve seen movies like this before and they all tend to look the same, but there’s always something a little different with every set/frame.
What Doesn’t Work With Gretel and Hansel
- Based on his first two movies (I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House and The Blackcoat’s Daughter), director Osgood Perkins has the reputation of being that horror director whose movies don’t really have a lot happening but aren’t really that bad if you come into the with a certain frame of mind otherwise they’re just really boring. Gretel and Hansel does nothing to dissuade that status. The first hour of G & T is (to put it kindly) deliberately paced. If that’s not a dealbreaker for you, you’ll more than likely enjoy it. If it’s not…
A dark (literally and figuratively) retelling of the famous story that that goes down easily but slowly. It’s not a bad movie, but you expect a little more bite. Recommended.