Gretel & Hansel is a 2020 horror movie and is based on the German folklore titled Hansel and Gretel by the Brothers Grimm. The movie is directed by Oz Perkins, the man who made The Blackcoat’s Daughter and I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House. This is a January release, and when it comes to horror movies and January, well, they definitely have a hate-hate relationship. I, however, was looking forward to watching it, and, well, here I am with a review.
From the get-go, Gretel & Hansel concentrates more on Gretel than Hansel (probably thus the title). The movie starts off with a lot of narration. Like, a lot. Yet, I was trying to concentrate on it, because I wanted to like the movie. But after some time, the narration and the backstory started becoming really boring. And probably around the 30-minute mark, I started to realise that the movie might be just this. So, Gretel & Hansel kind of has a start, and then it has an end. There’s an entire middle portion that is a jumble of many dark and gritty pretty scenes that but have nothing to them. This is probably the first thing I noticed about the movie. It is so well shot. The cinematography is beautiful. Every scene is dripping with darkness and has a really interesting aspect ratio that makes the scenes feel claustrophobic and creepy. But that was fun for only the first 30 minutes. After that, it was an endless repetition of the same thing and became really uneventful.
So, the story follows siblings Hansel and Gretel who, after being thrown out of their homes, find themselves at a witch’s house. She tries to awaken the same powers within Gretel and manipulates the duo to do her bidding. The storyline sounds interesting and coupled with the cinematography and some good acting from the three leads, this should’ve been a horrific ride. But alas.
There’s something really odd about Gretel & Hansel. The three leads – Sophia Lillis, Sam Leakey and Alice Krige, all have different accents. I can maybe accept Holda having one of her own, but the siblings’ accents differing from each other is a bit much.
Additionally, the entire middle part of the Gretel & Hansel is one big mess. It features Gretel mostly having nightmares which might or might not be real – and we are never told which. Perkins really tries to imbibe a sense of fear in the audiences. However, the scares are so few, if there at all, that it doesn’t even make you flinch. So, you just sit there kinda feeling bored. Also, the whole movie hints and nudges about Gretel getting her powers and the dynamics between her and Holda. However, instead of making that the central part of the story, there’s just so much filler that when the conflict does finally arrive, you don’t care about it. Thus, Gretel & Hansel, at87 minutes, feels too long and too dragged out.
What ends not-so-well
Gretel & Hansel, with its creepy visual and excellent cinematography, lacks the one thing movies can’t live without, and that is a tight and gripping storyline. With hardly any scares, the movie is a bore-fest that brings nothing to the table. So, if you’re thinking of something a little scarier to watch from 2020, probably try out something underground or in a remote mountain cabin. Give this one a skip.