Gretel & Hansel (2020) Revisited – Horror Movie Review

Not enough movie-goers saw Oz Perkins’ Gretel & Hansel when it was released in 2020, so it’s time for it to be Revisited

Whenever I get asked to recommend a good horror movie- I immediately take into consideration who I’m recommending it to. The key to a good movie recommendation is to compliment the other person’s tastes and suggest something that will comfortably expand their horizons. It also helps if the movie you’re recommending is criminally underseen for how incredibly well-made it is. Here’s what I mean- In 2020- yes, THAT 2020- the entire world was affected by unprecedented events that caused the everyday lives of everyday people to dramatically change. One of the many industries that suffered during this time was the Movie Theater industry. It was rough. It was stale. It was fucking Groundhog Day. At first, there were delays- movies just weren’t coming out at all. Then, some that were meant for theaters and Imax ended up going straight to streaming, delays, delays, more delays. And before you knew it, the days of limited theatrical releases were starting to come back. Movies were starting to exist outside of our living rooms again and for the everyday JoBlo- that meant new stories and adventures awaited us at the happiest place on earth, the movies. Only… Now people weren’t going. Listen, I have a movie recommendation that I simply cannot sit on any longer- You need to watch Gretel & Hansel. Yes, I know that the cult classic Jeremy Renner-led Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is going to spammed in the comments of this video, and yes, it is an underrated and fun gem that deserves more respect but no- I’m not talking about that one. Although… Comment below if you’d want to see that. Instead, today I’m going to tell you why I think Gretel & Hansel (watch it HERE) is a forgotten masterpiece and why you should revisit it- after this video.

Gretel & Hansel is the 2020 horror fairytale starring Sophia Lillis as Gretel and Samuel Leaky as Hansel. The film was written by Rob Hayes and directed by Oz Perkins, who happens to be the son of iconic Psycho actor- Anthony Perkins- although, he is a talented filmmaker in his own right with film’s like The Blackcoat’s Daughter and I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House. I know for sure that Tyler is going to notice that I once again found a way to talk about Hitchcock movies on this channel so, leave a like on this video so I don’t get sent off into the woods.

Gretel & Hansel is a similar take on the familiar fairytale but this time told with cold and sadistic intent. It mainly focuses on the character of Gretel who, after refusing to sell herself to a wealthy businessman, is forced by her extremely scary Mother to take Hansel and journey deep into the forest to find themselves new lives. This movie doesn’t waste any time sending these kids off either. The movie’s plot is fairly simple, and I’d argue that it’s not exactly the most important thing to the viewing experience for this particular film. While venturing through the cold and foggy woods, Gretel and Hansel will encounter the dangers of being young and vulnerable in a very evil place. I’ve heard some criticism that the movie is boring and to that I say- What in the hell are you talking about? As if this movie’s gorgeous and rich cinematography wasn’t enough (which it is- and we WILL be covering that later), the movie drops two kids off in the middle of nowhere 5 minutes in and they’re immediately in danger with scary monsters, suspicious strangers, and some very questionable mushrooms being the least of their worries.

After some close encounters with the threats that lurk in the forest, Gretel begins experiencing hallucinations that guide her and Hansel to a cozy cottage in the middle of nowhere. The kids are starving and whoever lives in the house seems to have prepared enough food to feed a giant family. Now, if you think you know what happens next, don’t you dare be so sure. See, this is where the real darkness of the movie ensues. Inside this home is an old and mysterious witch with black fingertips and a sinister grin- and while Hansel quickly trusts her, Gretel isn’t so quick to succumb to the temptations and hunger that motivate the siblings.

Gretel & Hansel (2020) Revisited – Horror Movie Review

You may be thinking that the witch fattens up the kids and eats them and that’s the movie- but buddy, you’re wrong again. Instead, this film takes the approach of having Gretel’s arrival at the witch’s cottage be a place where she can learn more about her hallucinations and why she has them. Would it surprise you to learn that Gretel herself is a witch? While staying at the old woman’s home, Gretel will learn things she never expected or knew she was capable of and when the time comes, she’ll have to use those talents to defeat her own mentor and save her brother from a horrific death. Does that sound boring to you?!

This movie establishes at the beginning what seems to be an origin story for the witch in the film- but instead it turns out that Holda, the witch, was actually the mother of the little girl from the story, and she killed and ate her own daughter before continuing the same ritual for many years. Until now. Gretel not only learns about her supernatural abilities, but she also learns from Holda herself about the internal power that exists inside of her as a person, and as a woman.

Now, why should you watch it if you haven’t seen it? And why should you watch it AGAIN if you have? This movie offers you all the slow burn intensity that you want from a folklore period piece fairytale, but it also gives you the creatures, frightening moments, and adventure that keep you invested. And because I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it enough- this movie’s visual style is a fucking treat. It’s shot in the very vintage looking 1:55:1 aspect ratio which usually I can kind of give or take but in this case, it just HAD to be done like this. The use of wide-angle lenses and distorting fisheye clashing with the tight aspect ratio give a liberating yet claustrophobic look that really connect you to these characters and how they’re feeling being both free to roam the world and trapped in the woods of never-ending trees. The color grading, the wardrobe, the composition, it’s all stunning. If Wes Anderson shot a horror movie, I think some of it would look a lot like this.

I also need to talk about this movie’s score. I’m in the process of listening to it on loop for like the millionth time this month and I’m still in love with it. Robin or “Rob” Coudert did the musical tracks for this movie and the use of retro synth risers and youthful and somehow whimsical orchestral themes are brilliant and I’d love to hear what you guys who are into movie scores think about it. It makes the slow moments of the film that don’t feature much dialogue still very stimulating to watch. And that’s the word for the viewing experience of this movie- stimulating. We of course can’t forget Sophia Lillis’ excellent performance as she carries much of the film on her shoulders and does so with grace and subtlety. I always look forward to seeing this actress in any project and this one is well-suited to her and her acting sensibilities. Of course, Alice Krige does a wonderful job as the oddly charming yet still horrifying witch. I loved her in this movie, and I think she gave a perfectly committed and weird performance that stands out among witches in movies.

Gretel & Hansel (2020) Revisited – Horror Movie Review

Oz Perkins is a name that I’d like to see attached to more movies in general. I mean, the guy was in Legally Blonde for like 2 minutes and has made some of my favorite horror films in the last decade, but this movie shows me that he’s a creative mind that we should definitely be on the lookout for. In fact, if you’re still not convinced about this movie- look at some of the names attached to this thing and tell me you’re not curious:

Rob Hayes co-wrote the film and you’d know him as the writer of popular TV series, Chewing Gum. It was produced by Brian Kavanaugh-Jones who was behind Sinister, and also produced by Autopsy of Jane Doe producer, Fred Berger. You know what’s consistent across all of these people? They make REALLY good shit. Director Oz Perkins had this to say about the film: “It’s awfully faithful to the original story. It’s got really only three principal characters: Hansel, Gretel, and the Witch. We tried to find a way to make it more of a coming of age story. I wanted Gretel to be somewhat older than Hansel, so it didn’t feel like two 12-year-olds – rather a 16-year-old and an 8-year-old. There was more of a feeling like Gretel having to take Hansel around everywhere she goes, and how that can impede one’s own evolution, how our attachments and the things that we love can sometimes get in the way of our growth.”

Gretel & Hansel hits you in the senses from the very opening all the way through to the time the credits roll. You’ll be looking at beautifully composed images with top-tier acting from the brilliant Sophia Lillis and a musical score that will chill you to the core- all while maintaining a sense of child-like adventure that weaves a crafty, beautifully twisted, and unnervingly forgotten masterpiece. If you’re in the mood for a dreamy fairytale with dark and twisted scares, beautiful music and even more beautiful visuals- revisit this one for yourself, and maybe consider sleeping with the light on.

Two previous episodes of Revisited can be seen below. To see more of our shows, head over to the JoBlo Horror Originals channel – and subscribe while you’re at it!

Source: Arrow in the Head

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