Fairy tales have been graced with magic to make them more appropriate for the young mind of other countries. At their roots though, the Grimm fairy tales hold a heart of darkness that were meant to teach the lessons to the youth of the European natures. Despite the disturbing tales we have seen today’s movies hold, the original stories are truly the nightmare inducing moments that can leave on scarred. So with the gloves coming off in the modern-day cinema, let’s bring that horror to life and potentially twist even further. Hi Robbie K here to bring about another movie review on the latest silver screen slayer. Will this late month horror movie slay, or is it just another victim of the dumping grounds of January? Let’s get reviewing:
Gretel and Hansel (2020)
Oz Perkins (as Osgood Perkins)
- The Acting
- The Short Run Time
- The Richer Dialogue (from one aspect)
- The Beautiful Woman
- The Look Aesthetic Of The Movie
- The Pace
- The Lack Of Character Development
- The Lack Of Scares
- Disgusting Imagery
- The Dialogue
- The Politics
- The Whininess Of Hansel
- The Almost Pointless Introduction Of Characters
- The Story
In horror there are many things needed for the execution of the chilling tale and in this case the acting is a big selling point for me. Sophia’s role is a little twist on her It character, with same intensity and damage, but this time a little Older European and maturity that takes the lead on the new approach this tale takes. She’s strong and fierce, yet shows the scared vulnerability that a child role would and it is a staple to latch on to. Then comes the wonder Alice Krige, whose adaptation into the deluded villain once more impresses me. Sinister and yet innocent, powerful and yet sickly, and caring yet cold, she balances all these emotions and succeeds in crafting a creepy character. Though you know what she represents, the acting always left me with that slight hope something will go differently. The two have wonderful chemistry together, something I would have liked to have a little more guidance and development to maximize. While not in it for long, the beautiful Jessica De Gouw shined in her performance, both in look and presence of her character. I would have liked more expansion on this character, especially given how commanding her presence was, but that was not the focus this tale took.
Moving on from the acting, the movie succeeds in accomplishing its journey in a short run time and not trying to get too bloated (see Midsomer director’s cut). The film has a much more poetic dialogue, that feels well adapted to the Grimm Fairy tale writing, and goes with the artistic feel of this movie that Perkins focused on. Yet, the biggest focus of this movie is the look of the film. Gretel and Hansel is all about creating the creepy atmosphere and letting it be the component to creep you out for much of the film. The use of camera filters and lighting are the main tools that somehow rob the hope of success from the film. All the shadows and elusive safety keep things always dark and dismayed, while also sort of establishing a sickening feeling that only further infects you with the skin crawls that come. The visualization of the witches home and the tricks she brings, also have that atmosphere that will certainly embed itself into your mind and leave you scarred for the event. Sure there are some shock culture moments and jump scares, but really it’s the looming atmosphere and cinematography that succeeds the most.
It seems that the visualization was too key a focus though, for some of the movie telling basics were dropped in my opinion. First of all, the pace. Horror movies often keep things moving, but this artistic twist is not one of those films, sometimes feeling super drawn out and stuffy rather than the thrilling tale. Part of this comes from just the slow buildup of the “surprising” reveal, but the other part comes from the weaker character development. Gretel and Hansel’s tale has sort of piece meal components that are shown just enough to set a background, but never to give meaningful insight to craft interesting characters. Even the witch herself is rather plain, a back story that is introduced too late, not very surprising, and sort of crammed into the ending instead of again giving rich characters to fear or analyze. The story instead just seems to hover around this convoluted conversation between Gretel and the Witch, always working towards this slow discovery of what we know and barely moving away for most of the movie. I guess they felt it pointless to make a big story for an already known tale, but then I question the introduction of some other characters into the film, and the hopes of using them as means to add variety to the movie. As such the various side stories are not needed merely adding obvious foreshadowing and time to the film.
Something else I could have had edited out would have been the whininess of the little brother, who had a symbolic component to Gretel (the star), but sort of got annoying with the way they took the character. Realistic, absolutely, but Hansel’s involvement was not as enjoyable to me, especially when the politics started coming into play (which we are about to discuss). In regards to scares, again the movie relies a lot on the visuals to scare you, and though creepy at times, it is more a movie to focus on disturbing imagery than real creeps. If you love the shock factor films, you’ll get it, but for me, the disturbing imagery would have been better minimized in place of the story and creepy scares I particularly love. Finally the politics. Not even horror films can escape the political trends of the modern day, and the title should give you a hint of the focus the writers wanted to place. Again, I’m never above a message being integrated into the story, but that does not mean the story and dialogue have to be purely focused on that message and rubbed In my face. That fluid, old English dialogue is awesome and poetic, but is so geared toward pushing for this new political twist that it falls into that vortex of cyclic conversations. The result is again a stuffy movie that does not move to the predictable ending fast enough. It’s a shame given the potential, but this was the biggest weakness for me in this film.
Gretel and Hansel is a great example of visionary creativity to make an old tale feel new. With haunting atmosphere and a cast to play in it, these are the main strengths for the film and the component artistic loving movie goers are going to love. Yet, this artistic nature really took away from the story for me and left me with a boring, bloated film that missed the potential the trailers painted. Story wise the characters are rather flat, the extra story characters and background information so streamlined it is almost a waste of film for this reviewer. Throw in too much focus on the political message hogging most of the attention and you get this film that seems to be two sharks circling, but never attacking. I give props for a psychological dive and realistic portrayal in the film, but this Grimm’s Fairy Tale is a little too sleep inducing and bloated for my tastes. Thus, I believe this film was dumped into theaters, when it really should have premiered on a streaming network instead best left for watching at home. Thus, my scores are:
Movie Overall: 5.0