Gretel and Hansel is based on the German folklore tale “Hansel and Gretel” by the Brothers Grimm, but it doesn’t follow the story exactly.
The film begins with a baby girl who falls ill in a village, but is saved by an enchantress who not only heals her but gives the girl powers. As she grows, she uses her powers to kill, so she is taken into the woods to be abandoned.
The story shifts and we meet teenage Gretel (Sophia Lillis), who is attempting to find a job to support her family. Upon her return home without work, her mother threatens to kill her. She escapes into the woods with her younger brother Hansel (Sam Leakey).
They meet an elderly woman named Holda (Alice Krige), and are offered room and board in exchange for their work. Hansel is happy because food is plentiful, but Gretel becomes suspicious of Holda, especially after she sees a vision of the Enchantress and hears children’s voices.
If you’re familiar with the original story, you may have an idea of how the movie ends, but there are a few twists in the last third of the movie that differ.
Lillis and Krige deliver strong performances, which is good as they shoulder the bulk of the movie, but the film suffers under the extremely slow build-up that is favored by director Oz Perkins. I don’t mind a slow-burn, but this take on the fable would’ve been more interesting if it was more evenly paced.
If you enjoy slow dark fantasy horror, you may enjoy this movie. I’m giving the 2020 version of Gretel and Hansel a 3 out of 5 stars. It’s currently streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime (affliiate link).
GRETEL AND HANSEL (2020)
Director: Oz Perkins
Cast: Sophia Lillis, Alice Krige, Sam Leakey, Charles Babalola, Jessica De Gouw, Fiona O’Shaughnessy
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