Cast: Sophia Lillis, Sam Leakey, Charles Babalola, Alice Krige
Director: Oz Perkins
We’re so close to the end of the month. Can we get through it without one more mediocre horror movie? Seriously, what the hell was Gretel & Hansel? You take a classic children’s story, try to modernize it and make it edgy, and end being a complete dud. Lillis really hasn’t had any luck picking movies outside of the It movies, so maybe if it’s time for an agent change if this is all she can come up with. Maybe not a bad role for a different young rising star, Gretal & Hansel is beneath Lillis and ended up being the horror movie equivalent of Ambien.
The movie follows Gretel (Lillis) and Hansel (Leakey), two children whose family is in the middle of a famine and who venture out to find food and work. After multiple unsuccessful attempts, the two eventually meet Holda (Krige), an elderly woman who lives in the woods in a house that smells of cakes and sweets. While everything seems fine at the beginning, the children soon realize that they’re in incredible danger and there may not be a way out of this. While there are some relatively tense and interesting moments, the payoff is never worth what we ended up getting. This is a movie that somehow gets progressively worse and by the end I’m just begging for it to be over. The initial setup and characters are interesting and the environment seems realistic, but as soon as we meet Holda this movie takes a nosedive. From there, the movie becomes a dry, slow-paced, chore to get through and even though it’s only 87 minutes long, the toll on your life is far greater. There’s nothing particularly scary about this movie, and while it has a few unsettling scenes, it’s not enough to make up for the lack of content in the rest of the movie. I haven’t seen any of Perkins’ other movies, but if they’re anything like what I saw where then I don’t have a ton of interest in seeing anything else. Outside of Lillis, there’s no major name attached to this movie, so I’m really surprised that major studios decided to fund and produce a movie like this. Switching the main protagonist from Hansel to Gretel will probably get some people upset as it deviates from the source material, but this is such a “who cares” movie to me that it really doesn’t matter what new twists were put into this movie. It is what it is and it’s not the worst horror movie of the month, but it really shows how lacking January is when you can consider Gretel & Hansel one of the good ones. It’s jarring that this movie made any sort of profit, since I don’t see who it’s supposed to appeal to, but realistically I think this will be the last time anyone brings up Gretel & Hansel in any major capacity. I’m sure Lillis will bounce back from this, but I don’t know if anyone else will since this movie does nothing special and manages to bungle a story that was already frightening enough.
Overall, Gretel & Hansel did well almost exclusively because it was the best of the worst, but that doesn’t make it a good movie. In a sense I have a feeling it would’ve been a stronger movie if it was directed by someone like Ari Aster, but this is the end result and we have to take it at face value. Bump it up to an R-rating and flesh out the ideas a little more and you may have something special, but ultimately Gretel & Hansel is just something most audiences will want to avoid.
Overall Score: 4/10