I understand the title has Gretel’s name as priority, but Hansel is still in the title too. It felt like only one was given mild development, and the other was handled with absolutely no care and attention.
Gretel & Hansel (2020) is directed by Oz Perkins and produced by Orion Pictures.
It stars a relatively small cast including Sophia Lillis, Sam Leakey, and Alice Krige.
The movie depicts 2 siblings, Gretel and Hansel, having to protect themselves in the dark woods after their mother falls into delusional insanity.
As they’re hungry and afraid, they unexpectedly discover an incredible selection of food left inside a a remote home.
They’re invited and welcomed in by a strange and ambiguous owner.
The children begin to become suspicious of this person, and sense that her mysterious and peculiar actions are part of an ominous plan to cause them pain.
Rushed Plot & Underdeveloped Direction
For the most part, I had a good time watching this fantasy/horror film.
The only major gripe I have with it, I would say, would be the fact that I didn’t really get too much out of the ending.
It’s relatively slow-paced throughout the beginning and middle acts to, I assume, build up suspense.
By the ending though, it just didn’t feel like it amounted to anything.
There were good elements attached to this story, as I’ll get into that later on.
But as to the overall plot and direction of the story, there was a strange sense of unfinished business I felt when the ending came.
The director, in my opinion, makes a great effort at developing and establishing undertones of ominous mystery.
These undertones of subtle creepiness are enhanced effectively, but it just felt like all of that was for nothing by the time the climax was over.
The runtime is just short under 90 minutes. If they carefully took the time to develop more of a balanced and resolved plot, it possibly would have received better reviews.
This undoubtedly was the highlight of the movie.
The surrounding visuals and imagery were developed incredibly beautifully and dark.
There were plenty of scenes that included unsettling images that evoked a chilling tone in me.
Specific moments involve far-away shots of shadow-like beings, with disturbing sounds in the background to make them appear scarier.
The sounds particularly were created and executed very well with dramatic exposure.
Be that as it may, the disconcerting, and sometimes gory and bloody, visuals trump practically everything else.
I was a bit unsatisfied with the way the exposition was formed, and sometimes the voice-over narration, but the cinematography in this case is the saving grace that holds all the glue of everything together.
Without it, it would simply crumble and fall apart under the weight of its own underdevelopment and lack of closure.
There’s good and there’s bad with this.
For starters, let’s begin with the title of this film.
Gretel and Hansel. Usually it’d be the other way around as that’s what it has been for so long.
But in this case, Gretel is chosen to be the star of the movie.
Sophia Lillis portrayed her well, if I’m being quite honest. She was good in the sense that she provided necessary intrigue and curiosity to the character of The Witch, played by Alice Krige.
Krige also was great with her role. Peronally, her’s was my absolute favorite.
I regularly was unsettled and disturbed when she addressed the two children in that soft, calm voice while holding a stare of predation and sharpness.
It terrifyingly gave me chilling vibes when she gracefully walked around the kids while they were eating, hovering above them as if she’s waiting for the right moment to pounce.
Now comes the bad stuff.
I have no idea why they even decided to include Charles Babalola. He was literally in the movie for like 5 minutes.
Then he just vanished.
It would’ve been more cool to see him stay longer and help the kids get away from the Witch by using his huntsman-like skills.
Oh well, wasted potential there.
In regards to Sam Leakey, this kid looked absolutely generic when delivering most of his lines.
I could see that he was authentically trying, and some scenes he pulled off pretty good, but most of his character throughout the story felt devoid of substance.
To bring this to a close, Gretel and Hansel was average at best.
The plot and direction weren’t developed to their fullest potential as the ending left me feeling like I missed out on more of the details.
Also, somewhere around the final act, the Witch gives a recap of a fairy tale referred to as “the pink cap”.
Frankly, that part came off like the writers were running out of new ideas to give the film an air of ingenuity.
So to compensate for that, they just decided to add in this little extra detail to cover up the fact that mostly everything before that point wasn’t leading to anywhere significant.
Also, I seriously would’ve liked to see more of the Huntsman. That guy came across really interesting and sage-like.
It’s unfortunate to see him be added on for some miscellaneous purpose, and then just kicked off.
He probably could’ve contributed immensely, and raised the fantasy aspect highly, if the production crew took him more seriously.
FP Score – Ordinary