This film is a so called “grim fairy tale”. Usually fairy tales are positive and dreamlike, but Hansel and Gretel has never been a happy tale. I’m sure many parents have told that story to their children as a cautionary tale not to engage with strangers. Well this take on the classic fairy tale is very dark and turns up the heat on the dark magic aspect. There’s some very interesting details that really make this film pop – things that aren’t seen a lot in mainstream horror films.
Visuals is probably the strongest aspect of this whole thing. From the eerie woods to the witch’s house, everything is so well designed. A lot of the angles and camerawork is specifically done in a way to capture these amazing visuals in the correct manner. The cinematography is honestly breathtaking in several scenes, it adds to the overall experience. There’s a lot of creativity when it comes to the designs of things like the house, the shed, the “enchantress” and her look. A triangle is a common shape used for effect here and I find that intriguing. The cast members all give inspired performances that help make up for the smaller scope the storyline operates on. I loved Sophia Lillis in the It films and I was very happy to see her cast as the lead here.
Lillis has a sense of maturity to her performances that’s so impressive and that is exactly what makes me believe she has a bright future ahead of her in Hollywood. I saw that maturity and rich emotion in It and again here. In this role, she has to take on the persona of a teenage girl who is forced to grow up far too quickly and become almost a mother to her younger brother. Her performance comes across as seamless, as if it doesn’t take much from her to become this character. I think that is the sign of a truly great and talented actor. Samuel Leakey is a very obviously talented young actor and I enjoyed him as Hansel. Sometimes child actors are simply grading or just unconvincing but Leakey definitely has a future in acting if he chooses to continue pursuing. Alice Krige gives an eerie performance that yes does have some minor clichés to it, but keeps things fresh enough to be intriguing. The storyline has good and not so good elements.
What I like about the story is that it has some mystery attached to it. By revealing symbols here and there that hint at paganism and Satanism, it ups the ante on the sinister feeling. The “enchantress” as she’s called in the film, is also a great detail because we never fully see her but we’re shown enough to where our interest is peaked.
Overall, this film has an eerie story with some creative details, I only wish the scope covered more. The scope is smaller than I had thought it would be. It would’ve been nice to have seen the film follow through on some of the more big picture ideas it starts to set up. Certain things are talked about and mentioned that I for sure thought would be explored but the story is, for the most part, kept to Gretel, Hansel, and the witch. I will say though, even though the scope is kept rather small, things are still interesting and entertaining. The only negative I have here is wishing it would’ve taken that extra step.
Gretel & Hansel may not completely follow through on all of it’s intriguing ideas, but it keeps things interesting with top notch cinematography, eerie visuals, and a very talented cast.