Gretel & Hansel lands in theaters on January 31.
By Elazar Abrahams
I was always taught that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it. So, unfortunately, I’ll be keeping this review very short.
Shot quite beautifully but stunningly stale, Gretel & Hansel is a failed retelling of the classic Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale. The emphasis this time, as you could glean from the twisted title, is on older sister Gretel (IT’s Sophia Lillis), who in this version has mysterious abilities that are only growing in power. Thrown out of their broken home by their insane mother, the siblings make their way through the woods and come across a witch’s residence disguised with treats. You know the rest.
Despite the winning cinematography that provides a childlike viewpoint, it’s impossible to ignore the confusing dialogue and disastrous pacing here. All the characters speak like they are in a high school Shakespeare production. It totally distracts the audience and removes all tension. When cute little Hansel exclaimed, “It smells of cake, and I am unable to resist!” I stifled a laugh in the theater. The timeframe this story takes place in is also bewildering. It is impossible to know exactly how long the titular pair spend in each location of their journey, and the plot seems to dwell on certain scenes for a bit and then jump forward with no explanation.
When it comes to horror movies, I am a total wimp. And so I definitely found myself frightened by the scares throughout Gretel & Hansel. The witch (Alice Krige) is legitimately creepy! But gosh, the flaws of this movie completely overshadow everything that could work in the hands of a better director.
Lillis is a great actress, sure to be a star. She just needs better roles to work with. Time to get out of the woods, and home before dark.
I give Gretel & Hansel a D.