Gretel & Hansel

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Gretel & Hansel
Gretel & Hansel - A Grim Fairy Tale theatrical poster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byOz Perkins
Produced by
Screenplay byRob Hayes
Based onHansel and Gretel
by The Brothers Grimm
Starring
Music byRobin Coudert
CinematographyGalo Olivares
Edited by
Production
companies
Distributed byUnited Artists Releasing
Release date
  • 31 January 2020 (2020-01-31)
Running time
87 minutes
Countries
LanguageEnglish
Budget$5 million[3]
Box office$22.1 million[4][5]

Gretel & Hansel (also known as Gretel & Hansel: A Grim Fairy Tale) is a 2020 dark fantasy horror film based on the German folklore tale "Hansel and Gretel" by the Brothers Grimm. The film is directed by Oz Perkins, and produced by Fred Berger, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, and Dan Kagan, with a screenplay by Rob Hayes. Sophia Lillis and Sam Leakey portray the title characters, alongside Charles Babalola, Jessica De Gouw, and Alice Krige. The story follows Gretel and Hansel as they enter the dark woods in order to find work and food, and then stumble upon the home of a witch.

It was announced in October 2018 that Orion Pictures had started developing Gretel & Hansel, a film adaptation based on the German folklore Hansel and Gretel by the Brothers Grimm, with Perkins directing the film from a screenplay he co-wrote with Hayes. At the same time, Lillis was set to star in the film, with other actors being added shortly after, and filming taking place between November and December 2018 in Dublin, Ireland.

Gretel & Hansel was released in North America on 31 January 2020 by Orion Pictures through United Artists Releasing. The film grossed $22 million worldwide and received generally positive reviews from critics, with praise for its visuals and cinematography, as well as the horror elements and acting, but criticism for the film's pacing.

Plot[edit]

A baby girl in a village falls ill and is not expected to survive. The father takes the child to see an enchantress, who removes the illness but leaves power within the girl. The villagers go to the girl, as she grows up, to hear her premonitions, but she uses her power to kill people, including her father. She is taken into the woods to be abandoned. There, she lures other children to their deaths. She becomes known as the Beautiful Child.

The scene shifts to teenaged Gretel (Sophia Lillis) and her younger brother, Hansel, after their father's death. They meet a man about a housekeeping job, but he reveals his true intentions by asking Gretel if she is still a virgin. The children leave without work. Their mother rebukes Gretel for not helping provide for them and threatens to kill Gretel if they do not leave the house. The siblings flee and find a hut to stay for the night, but a ghoulish man appears and attacks Hansel. A hunter (Charles Babalola) saves the siblings and takes them to his home.

The next morning, the siblings go out to forage and seek work. Hansel is drawn to a house by the smell of cake coming from it. Holda (Alice Krige) invites them inside for a meal and allows them to sleep there in exchange for work. Holda sends Hansel to the woods to practice his skills with an axe while keeping Gretel indoors. Hansel is happy but Gretel grows suspicious of Holda. She sees a vision of the Enchantress and hears children's voices. Holda shows Gretel how to tap into her powers as a witch. Hansel also sees a vision of the Enchantress and an inverted pentagram carved into a tree.

Gretel enters Holda's cellar, where Hansel sits entranced. The floor floods with blood and a younger witch emerges, emptying buckets of guts and placing a dismembered child's arm onto the table before turning this into the food that Holda feeds the siblings. The next day, Gretel watches Holda eat and sees her pull a lock of human hair out of her mouth. Through visions, Holda reveals she is the mother of the Beautiful Child. The child promised to share her powers if Holda trusts in the darkness. It is also revealed that Holda devoured her other children, and took on the guise of a kind, old woman to lure other children.

Holda straps Gretel down in the cellar. With her youthful appearance, Holda lures Hansel into a cage so she can cook him. Gretel uses her powers to kill Holda over a fire and to break Hansel's trance and her own bonds. Gretel decides to remain at the house in order to practice witchcraft. Hansel returns to their family home, discovering that their mother is no longer there and reclaiming his own axe. Gretel sees the spirits of the dead children emerge from the trees, finally free. Her fingers start to turn black as Holda's did, but she states she will trust herself and control her newly found abilities.

Cast[edit]

  • Sophia Lillis – Gretel, a 16-year-old girl and Hansel's older sister.[6]
  • Sam Leakey – Hansel, Gretel's 8-year-old brother. Leakey is making his acting debut.[7]
  • Charles Babalola – Huntsman, a young man who helps Gretel and Hansel early in the story.[8]
  • Alice Krige – Holda / The Witch, a terrifying and powerful evil witch who lives in the shadows of the dark wood and kidnaps Gretel and Hansel.[7]
  • Giulia Doherty and Beatrix Perkins (uncredited) – The Beautiful Child
  • Fiona O'Shaughnessy – Mother
  • Donncha Crowley – Master Stripp
  • Melody Carrillo – Enchantress
  • Jonathan Delaney Tynan – Father
  • Jonathan Gunning – Emaciated man
  • Ian Kenny – Knight
  • Abdul Alshareef – Knight
  • Manuel Pombo – Knight
  • Loreece Harrison – Demoness

Production[edit]

In October 2018, the Hollywood Reporter wrote that Orion Pictures had started developing a film adaptation of the German folklore tale Hansel and Gretel, with Oz Perkins directing a screenplay he had co-written with Rob Hayes, and Sophia Lillis starring as the lead character.[9] Sinister producer Brian Kavanaugh-Jones and The Autopsy of Jane Doe producer Fred Berger, partners at Automatik Entertainment, were announced as producers, with Sandra Yee Ling and Macdara Kelleher as executive producers.[7] Hayes eventually received sole screenplay credit.

In November 2018, Charles Babalola was cast as the Hunter, a new character who helps Gretel and Hansel navigate the woods.[8] In April 2019, Alice Krige, Jessica De Gouw, and Sam Leakey joined the cast, with Leakey making his acting debut.[7]

Perkins explained in an interview that the title was changed because this version focuses on Gretel:

"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."[10]

Principal photography on the film began on 9 November 2018 in Dublin, Ireland, and wrapped up in December 2018.[11] Additional filming and reshoots started in January 2019 in Langley, British Columbia, Canada.

Music[edit]

The score was composed by Robin Coudert, also known by his stage name, Rob. With the soundtrack in mind, Rob avoided using typical symphonic orchestral themes to create a unique film score saying, “I find it essential to create melodies that we can sing or whistle as, in horror cinema, it is usually the opposite, where the music rather has a tendency toward structure and abstraction. For this project, which is a film about kids, it seemed important to have that.” The soundtrack was released by Waxwork Records in 2020 as a single LP.[12]

Release[edit]

The film was released on 31 January 2020 by United Artists.[7]

Home video[edit]

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (under license to MGM Home Entertainment) released the film digitally on 7 April 2020, and on DVD and Blu-ray on 5 May 2020.[13]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside The Rhythm Section, and was projected to gross $4–7 million from 3,000 theaters in its opening weekend.[14][3] The film made $2.3 million on its first day (including $475,000 from Thursday night previews). It debuted to $6.1 million, finishing fourth.[15]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 64% based on 104 reviews, with an average rating of 6.40/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Gretel & Hansel's rich visuals satisfy, even if this adaptation of a classic fairytale gets a little lost in the woods on the storytelling front."[16] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 64 out of 100, based on 17 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[17] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C−" on an A+ to F scale.[15]

Contrarily, Andrew Barker of Variety wrote, "The film certainly looks nice, with a wealth of eye-catching compositions," but added, "The problem is that so many of its virtues feel compromised." Kimber Myers wrote for The Los Angeles Times, "While [Perkins] offers a stunning feast for the eyes, the substance is likely to leave viewers still hungry."[18]

Chandler Levack from The Globe and Mail wrote, "Everything about Gretel & Hansel is weirder, smarter and way more cinematic than I'd expected, thanks to some fascinating movie choices made by director Oz Perkins." Kate Rife from The A.V. Club wrote, "If one of the boundaries being tested in this film is viewers' patience, the reward for—to use a refrain repeated throughout the film—'trusting the darkness' is well worth the commitment." Frank Sheck of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Gretel & Hansel may alienate some horror movie fans with its extremely leisurely pacing and emphasis on atmosphere and mood rather than visceral shocks. But while the film certainly demands patience, it provides ample rewards with its lush stylization."

Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press wrote, "Gretel & Hansel is as visually arresting as it is tedious, a 90-minute movie that really should have been a 3-minute music video for Marilyn Manson or Ozzy Osbourne. It's in the horror genre only loosely. It's more eerie, if that's a genre. Actually, it's like dread for 90 minutes. It's dreadful." Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times labeled the film "Essentially the story of a young woman coming into her power, Gretel & Hansel is quietly sinister, yet too underdeveloped to truly scare."[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "'Gretel & Hansel' Are In Big Trouble In New Trailer". etcanada.com. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Gretel & Hansel (2020) Film Review". flickfeast.co.uk. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  3. ^ a b Rebecca Rubin (29 January 2020). "Will Blake Lively's 'Rhythm Section' Fumble at the Box Office on Super Bowl Weekend?". Variety. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  4. ^ "Gretel & Hansel (2020)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  5. ^ "Gretel & Hansel (2020)". The Numbers. IMDb. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  6. ^ Kit, Borys (4 October 2018). "'It' Breakout Sophia Lillis to Star in Fairy Tale Thriller 'Gretel and Hansel' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e Couch, Aaron (19 April 2019). "Fairytale Thriller 'Gretel and Hansel' Set 2020 Release Date (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  8. ^ a b Wiseman, Andreas (6 November 2018). "Charles Babalola Joins Sophia Lillis in Orion Horror 'Gretel and Hansel' from 'Sinister' & 'La La Land' Producers". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  9. ^ Kit, Borys (4 October 2018). "'It' Breakout Sophia Lillis to Star in Fairy Tale Thriller 'Gretel and Hansel' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  10. ^ Collis, Clark (26 August 2019). "'It' star Sophia Lillis goes to a dark place in first look at Osgood Perkins's 'Gretel & Hansel'". Entertainment Weekly.
  11. ^ Kay, Jeremy (9 November 2018). "Dublin shoot begins on 'Gretel and Hansel'". ScreenDaily. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  12. ^ Roffman, Michael (30 January 2020). "Gretel and Hansel score heading to vinyl, hear exclusive track "By The River": Stream". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  13. ^ Stephanie Prange (26 March 2020). "'Gretel & Hansel' Coming to Digital April 7, Disc May 5 From Warner". MediaPlayNews. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  14. ^ Jeremy Fuster (28 January 2020). "'The Rhythm Section' Arrives During Super Bowl Slump Weekend for Box Office". TheWrap. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  15. ^ a b Anthony D'Alessandro (2 February 2020). "'Bad Boys for Life' Scores Over Super Bowl Weekend with $17M+; 'Rhythm Section' Is a Mess". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  16. ^ "Gretel & Hansel (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  17. ^ "Gretel & Hansel Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  18. ^ https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2020-01-30/gretel-hansel-review-horror-osgood-perkins
  19. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/30/movies/gretel-and-hansel-review.html

External links[edit]