This movie sucks. I know normally on this site we give a few snarky witticisms about the film we just watched before getting into what we thought about the movie, but this movie honestly doesn’t deserve it. Gretel and Hansel is an adaptation of the classic fairy tale with a dark and edgy twist, because it worked so well with the last time they tried it with Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, with a few big names attached to it including Sophia Lillis of It and Alice Krige of Sleepwalkers, and my gosh, it’s awful.
It is such an abhorrent attempt at an Oscar-bait horror film that I have no comedy left in me for this opening. So, let’s walk into the house (and then sit there for an eternity) and watch Gretel and Hansel.
So, this film isn’t a total tire-fire, or a witch-fire, which is probably the more accurate term for this film. One thing which I did like were the performances from Krige and Lillis, who are our two stars of the film. While the writing for their characters is downright atrocious, the two manage to give respectable performances. Lillis as Gretel looks like she truly cares about Hansel, even if the audience couldn’t give a darn about him.
There are also some scenes with decent production design, like the basement or the house Gretel goes to at the beginning of the film. The production design feels just off enough to be unnerving, which is commendable. It’s also mercifully short, similarly to another Lynch-ian horror movie I can’t stand, Eraserhead. The main difference being that Eraserhead couldn’t give two diapers from the weird mutant baby thing whether or not people enjoyed it. Meanwhile, Gretel and Hansel feels like a calculated attempt to get the pretentious crowd into seats. So, there are some things to praise in this film.
Now onto the bad, which I honestly just have one big thing to say on it. While I could talk for hours on the nonsensical moments of the script or the characters that have been ripped out of Tim Burton’s garbage bin, there is just one big thing that I want to say when it comes to the negatives of Gretel and Hansel. This is one of the most boring films I have ever sat through. It is eighty seven minutes of pure unadulterated boredom, which is only exasperated by the hope that it always feels like the story is about to start. Let me walk you through the scenes of the film in order to show you what I mean.
We open on a decent story about a little girl with a pink hat. It had enough weird imagery and decent cinematography to get me hooked. Then we get to the stuff with Gretel being asked about her womanhood, and I thought “This isn’t great, but when they get to the woods it’ll be awesome.” Then they trot around the woods and have a drugged up on fungi sequence (Stealing from Dora and the Lost City of Gold) and I thought “Well, this isn’t very interesting either, but I’m sure that once we get to the witch’s home it’ll pick up.”
Then they walk into the house, and they basically do chores for a half hour. Looking back, this may have been an attempt to have us relate to the main characters, because this entire film is just one giant chore.
Anyway, at this point in the film, with roughly the third time Hansel goes to chop wood, the other two people in the theatre that were there when we began had all walked out in hopes of finding a decent horror movie, so I was free to yell the following phrases at the screen. “What is happening?” “Why would anyone care about these characters?” and my personal favorite for the film, regarding the ending “This is so stupid, why?” This might be one of the dumbest endings for a movie I’ve seen in a long time, combining pretentious storytelling with nonsensical plot twists that set up sequels which will never happen. Hopefully.
To close, Gretel and Hansel is the perfect template of bad prestige films. Similar to last year’s The Goldfinch in that regard in that it is so desperately trying to win Oscars and be seen as important, that it it turns into a boring, dull, absolute slog of a movie that I’m sure everyone will forget as soon as it exits cinemas. I’m shocked that this got a decent critical reception and Fantasy Island was skewered. I actually saw Fantasy Island the other day and was pleasantly surprised.
Brought to us by almost the exact same crew as Truth or Dare which is a bad sign, Fantasy Island was honestly an alright movie. Sure, it’s no groundbreaking piece of cinema, but it manages to be fun, engaging, with enough cool set pieces and callbacks to the original show that I laughed a few times throughout the runtime. It has a few pacing issues and is about twenty minutes too long, but the twists managed to keep me entertained, and with that Fantasy Island earns a solid three stars and a “worth checking out” from me. Wait, what was I talking about? Eh, couldn’t have been important.