SPOILERS FOR A MOVIE STILL IN THEATERS
I DON’T REALLY SPOIL MUCH, BUT THAT’S JUST MY STANDARD WARNING BY THIS POINT
Mr. Oz “Osgood” Perkins (son of Psycho actor Anthony Perkins) has directed 3 movies now, Gretel & Hansel being his most recent and the only one he didn’t write, so it’s hard for me to say he has a specific “director trademark.” All three movies are a bit slow (some slower than others) and there is a tendency towards awkward narration. But where I thought I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House was okay and The Blackcoat’s Daughter was pretty good, I adore Gretel & Hansel.
Just a shame that the story is just… decent.
We all know the story of Hansel and his sister Gretel, but this movie subverts the story a bit; so does every modern movie invoking a fairy tale. There’s a knee-jerk reaction to taking these stories and making them “darker” (a weird concept for a story that involves attempted child murder/cannibalism and death by oven), but I think the problem with most adaptations that don’t work is the mood. The theme. The… aesthetic, I suppose. This movie is gorgeous. The color design had me enthralled. The soundtrack shouldn’t work as well as it does, filled with synth riffs, but it’s haunting in a way that I had to listen to it again when I got home from the theater. So much care was put into giving this movie an eerie mood, and I absolutely appreciate it.
Mrs. Alice “Borg Queen” Krige was perfect as the witch. Google says she wasn’t cast early on, but it just feels like the role was written for her. She’s just great at being creepy (which is especially why it’s weird she was in all three A Christmas Prince movies), and the blackened fingertips were a nice, subtle touch. Sophia Lillis as Gretel is great, coming off having been Beverly in both chapters of It. She’s believable as a young girl just starting to realize the world can be a cruel place. And Samuel Leakey as Hansel was fine. He was an annoying younger brother, and it fit.
It’s not a perfect movie, mind you. The Huntsman was a rather useless character and his one action scene was hilariously over the top. The dialogue, especially between the siblings, felt very forced most of the time. There’s a reference to another movie near the end–you can’t miss it–and I still don’t know if I liked it. And there’s a segment where the witch’s hairless cat jumped off a bed during filming, but the scene was filmed out of order so it keeps appearing and disappearing from the background. But as a whole, I really liked it. I even picked up the soundtrack by… Rob. Just Rob. Anyway, at the very least I recommend checking out the tracks “Arise” and “Kids” on YouTube or wherever.
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