Gretel & Hansel (2020)

gretel and hansel poster 2020 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Good looking, good cast

Weak story

Movie Info

Movie Name: Gretel & Hansel

Studio: Orion Pictures

Genre(s): Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s): Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

MPAA Rating: PG-13

gretel and hansel sophia lillis

Beware of the woods and what lurks in them

Gretel (Sophia Lillis) finds herself in protection of her younger brother Hansel (Sam Leakey) when their mother decides she can no longer care for them.  Befriended by a huntsman (Charles Babalola), Gretel and Hansel learn that there might be work found deep in the woods…but passing through the woods is a dangerous threat.  The story of a girl banished to the forest for witchcraft sits heavily in the town legend and when Gretel and Hansel discover a cottage with a woman (Alice Krige) in the forest, it could be a safe harbor or it could mean their doom.

Directed by Oz Perkins, Gretel & Hansel (also called Gretel & Hansel:  A Grim Fairy Tale) is a fantasy horror film.  The film received average to positive reviews.

2020 was a train wreck.  Early in the year I was heavily searching and watching award nominated movies…by March of the year everything was up in the air and holding up at home was all you did.  I didn’t even hear about Gretel & Hansel until I saw it in stores.  Seeing the movie, it definitely has style, but it is lacking in substance.

gretel and hansel witch alice krige

It’s casual day at the Leaky Cauldron

The story is unnecessarily complex.  The tale feels like it borrows from the stylish The Witch in inspiration with Gretel finding herself falling deeper and deeper into the world of the witch’s allure and some of the tone of the ending.  The story stumbles however with the story tale within the movie.  It makes an overly complex story of a mother and her daughter and the treatment by the town.  It could have been a simple, scary story, but attempts to switch up and draw parallels with Gretel mucks up the telling.

This is too bad for the actors.  Sophia Lillis is strong as Gretel and for a child actor Sam Leakey does a nice job in the role as the much younger Hansel.  Alice Krige portrays the creepy witch who is obviously plotting the whole time.  While this in general wouldn’t make much sense (the kids would simply try to escape), but the structure of the story has Hansel and Gretel with nowhere to go (a strength of the story).  I also liked the kindly huntsman played by Charles Babalola who can’t reasonably keep the children but does what he can to help them along.

gretel and hansel burning witch end

That really isn’t a nice way to treat someone who’s made you a houseguest

The movie does have great visuals.  Though it was low budget, it is sleek and stylish.  The set designs and the muted colors of the creepy forest work.  It is a rather simple presentation, and it is a minimalist look (which builds the fear).  It works for the movie.

Gretel & Hansel wasn’t bad, but it missed an opportunity to be great.  The story needed tweaking to make it stronger, and it needed to differentiate itself from something like The WitchGretel & Hansel did neither.  The result was a decent movie that will likely be forgettable.  I’ve liked what Oz Perkins has done so far with movies like The Blackcoat’s Daughter, and I think he could be a good force in horror and the supernatural if he keeps moving forward.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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