Director Oz Perkins usually finds a way to combine an arthouse picture with some dark elements in a pretty ingenious way. His previous entries like ‘The Blackcoat’s Daughter’ put this on display as we watch as an almost gothic-feeling tale meets something you could only experience through a motion picture.
When Gretel & her younger brother Hansel are sent away from their homes and starving in the woods, they come across a house which offers them more food than they can comprehend. As time matures, we come to learn of this crone’s history and what she has in store for these children who’ve magically appeared in her lap.
The tale focuses mainly on Gretel (hence the re-labeling of the title) as she is a teenager blossoming from a girl into a woman. The film shows us the overlapping fixes between the witch and Gretel, and the witch is happy to divulge this information in hopes of persuading Gretel into tapping into her own magic.
In early 2020, ‘Gretel & Hansel’ was released to the public to mixed reviews. Some thought it was dreadfully boring, some thought it was style over substance, and some thought it was his masterpiece. I found that it actually delivered a lot more than I had anticipated.
First and foremost, the cinematography in this thing is monstrous. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful looking horror films in the last 20 years. Even when the children are just roaming through the forest and talking, there is SO MUCH to look at and enjoy. From the symmetric tree lines, to the most perfect of spider webs, every detail is embraced.
Now, this is where I will agree with the critiques though, the narrative itself is rather dry. While I loved the idea of Gretel blooming and learning about her hidden female powers, this felt like something that could’ve been achieved with 2/3’s of the run time. There is a stretch in time where no progress – or regression – is accomplished, and the ending almost seems to rush once those dominos begin to fall. But this is still a highly enjoyable film, and it has a lot of replay value once you learn what’s really happening.
If you’ve been interested in this piece, I am here to tell you that it is absolutely worth a watch. I would like to point out though that it’s more arthouse than it is horror – so not a whole lot of action happens. But the mood, the scenery, the characters, and the story is quite intoxicating. I definitely plan to watch this again.
‘Til Next Time,
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