BY: MEGHNA CHATTERJI
Meg’s Rating: 4/10
Most horror movie fanatics have mixed feelings about PG-13 horror films—for a good reason. What is deemed “too gory” for adolescents is exactly the content that makes the horror movie genre so good; being too watered-down is one reason why PG-13 horror films don’t have a good reputation. In this review, I’m going to dive deeper into why Gretel and Hansel didn’t reach its full potential, avoiding spoilers of course.
If you’re a real horror fan, you may recognize the director, Oz Perkins, from something other than directing movies. In 1983, Oz Perkins played the role of Norman Bates in “Psycho II,” reprising his father’s (Anthony Perkins) position as the character from the original movie, “Psycho,” directed by Alfred Hitchcock. “Psycho,” one of the most iconic Hitchcock movies, was made more recently into the stellar television drama starring Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga, “Bates Motel.”
Perkins’ last movie, “I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in That House” (2016) didn’t do so well, scoring only a 4.5/10 on IMDb and 58% on Rotten Tomatoes. Gretel and Hansel similarly received a 5.9/10 on IMDb and a 56% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Most of us grew up knowing the story of Hansel and Gretel: two German children… abandoned by their family during famine… evil stepmother (because of course, it isn’t a fairy tale without one)… breadcrumbs… blind witch’s candy house … kids lured in and fed until they become “plump” enough to eat… chicken bones… Hansel in an oven… witch in an oven… the great escape (oops, spoiler)… the end (If that didn’t make sense, I highly recommend reading the original Grimm’s version of Hansel and Gretel to catch up on yet another classically gruesome fairy tale). This version of the classic tale is quite different, as it excludes some of the details of the original, and adds many of its own.
To begin with the pros, the cinematography was artful, as well as the soundtrack. I would explain my favorite scene but that would be a spoiler (Let’s just say a certain “pile of organs” make a very artful transition into a certain “pile of desserts”). The set was well crafted, fulfilling its role as a “creepy, medieval cottage in the woods” although there were some instances that left me wondering, “was that (insert prop) even invented yet?”
While the soundtrack and scenery were all well and good, arguably the most important part of a film remains the deliverance of the plot. Essentially, the main reason this film bombed was because of the underdeveloped plot, script, and concepts. In other words, “What just happened?” will likely be your first thought when the credits roll, and not in a good way. The mystical occurrences in this film, much like those in “The Shining,” went unexplained, which is fine; however, many of the judgments made by the characters were poor, and led to an unsatisfying conclusion. So, there you have it. This film had potential, as the Grimm’s version was good in itself, but its underdeveloped nature led to its downfall. But hey, at least it’s not as bad as the Jeremy Renner version. My advice: save those $13 for “Birds of Prey,” releasing on February 7th, 2020.