Hansel and Gretel (2007) Review
Country of Origin: South Korea
Director: Yim Pil-sung
Cast: Chun Jung-myung (Lee Eun-soo), Eun Won-jae (Kim Man-bok), Shim Eun-kyung (Kim Young-hee), Jin Ji-hee (Kim Jung-soon), Park Hee-soon (Deacon Byun)
Hansel and Gretel is one of several classic fairytales to have been turned into a Korean horror (after Cinderella and the Red Shoes). Of the three, however, this may be the best film of the bunch. Shortly, I will discuss my reasons why.
The movie begins with Eun-soo driving to visit his mother in the hospital after she fell ill on the day he discovered his wife was pregnant. Though he doesn’t make it. His car swerves to avoid something in the road, causing his car to fly off the road and go for a tumble. He soon wakes up in the woods and finds a little girl (Young-hee) by his side. She leads him to a cabin where she meets her family—her older brother, younger sister and their “parents.” At first, the family seems perfect but it soon becomes apparent that the mom and dad are terrified of the kids. Before too long, they disappear and it is revealed that the children possess the ability to have all their wishes come true. This includes literally anything they can imagine. Making matters worse, the brother is quite malevolent. I’ll spare any spoilers after this point.
After watching this movie, I had a few thoughts. For instance, I feel it’s a shame that Yim Pil-sung isn’t more well known. The movie wasn’t even a commercial success in Korea, but I felt it was brilliant. Not only was the film beautiful to look at, but it also had a beautiful story. For instance, this movie achieves two things that aren’t common in this type of movie. First, the movie does a remarkable job of making you care about the cause of the horror on a more emotional level. This is especially impressive since you fear them as well. Second, the ending to the movie has some serious emotional weight. There are other horror movies that achieve this effect, but this is one of the best jobs I’ve seen.
There are numerous references to other fairy tales in this movie. This includes Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, the Red Shoes and Pinocchio.