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 by
  • Rob Hayes
Based onHansel and Gretel
by The Brothers Grimm
Music byRobin Coudert
CinematographyGalo Olivares
Edited by
Distributed byUnited Artists Releasing
Release date
  • January 31, 2020 (2020-01-31)
Running time
87 minutes
Budget$5 million[3]
Box office$17.6 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 a dark wood in order to find work and food, and stumble upon the home of a witch.

It was announced in October 2018 that Orion Pictures in 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 January 31, 2020, by Orion Pictures through United Artists Releasing. The film received favorable reviews from critics, with praise for its cinematography and visual effects, as well as performances and the horror elements, but criticism for the screenplay and pacing.


"The Beautiful Child With The Little Pink Cap"[edit]

A baby that everyone in the village found to be the most precious, but she had fallen terribly ill one winter. Her father took her to see an enchantress, who removed the illness but left a power within the girl. As she grew older, people in the village went to the girl, as she had premonitions of the future. Since she knew everything ended in death, she used her power to kill people, including her father. The child was taken into the woods to be left alone, but she lured other children to a grim fate.

"Gretel & Hansel"[edit]

After their father's death, teenage Gretel (Sophia Lillis), and her younger brother Hansel (Sam Leakey), are going to meet a man about a job as a housekeeper. Gretel meets with the man, but he makes his true intentions clear when he asks Gretel if she is still a virgin. The two leave without a job. At night, the siblings' mother rebukes Gretel for not doing what she had to do to get a job and help provide for them. She tells Gretel that she and Hansel must leave since there is no room left in the house. The mother goes as far as threatening to hack Gretel to bits if they don't leave immediately. The siblings flee their home and find a hut to sleep in for the night.

Suddenly, a ghoulish man arises and lets out a horrible scream and makes the kids run away. He chases them outside and attacks Hansel. Before he can get to Gretel, he is killed with an arrow to the head. A hunter (Charles Babalola), rescues the siblings and takes them into his home for the night and will also direct them toward others who can provide them with food and work. The following morning, the siblings go out to forage and seek out work. They get frustrated when they find nothing until Gretel spots some mushrooms. They turn out to be "magic" mushrooms that cause the two to laugh hysterically. Hansel then wanders until he finds a house that has a cake smell coming from it. Gretel follows as she hears what sounds like a girls voice beckoning her, seen alongside The Beautiful Child being taken away in a carriage. Gretel tries to stop Hansel from going in, but he does so anyway and appears to be taken by someone. Gretel tries to start a fire to break inside, but she is greeted by Holda (Alice Krige), the woman living inside. She invites the siblings inside for a meal and allows them to sleep there in exchange for work.

Holda has Hansel go out into the woods to practice his skills with an axe, while she keeps Gretel at the house. Hansel enjoys his time there since they have plenty of food, but Gretel becomes suspicious of Holda's intentions. Gretel starts to see a vision of the Enchantress and also hears children's voices guiding her somewhere, but before she finds out what's going on, she wakes up in her bed. While Hansel goes out, Holda shows Gretel how to tap into her powers as a witch. Gretel goes into the woods and manages to use her power to bring a tree branch near her so she can take a fruit. Meanwhile, Hansel also sees a vision of the Enchantress and spots a satanic carving on a nearby tree. Hansel also starts to grow suspicious of Holda. Later in the night, Gretel makes her way into Holda's cellar where Hansel is sitting in a trance. Suddenly, the floor fills with goo, and a younger witch emerges, emptying buckets of guts onto the table before turning them into food, the same that Holda fed the siblings. The next day, Gretel sits with Holda, who eats something and pulls a long strand of a child's hair out of her mouth. Gretel pleads with Holda to let Hansel go, but she refuses.

Through a series of visions, she tells Gretel the truth about the story of the Beautiful Child: Holda was the girl's mother and she resented her daughter after she killed her father, and she left the girl in the woods of her own accord. However, the child lingered in Holda's mind, promising to share her powers with her if she trusted the darkness. With that, Holda devoured her other children and took on the disguise of an old woman to appear friendly and lure other children to their fates. Holda straps Gretel to a table in the cellar as she assumes her youthful appearance to lure Hansel into a cage so she can cook him. Gretel manages to use her powers to send a staff toward Holda, impaling her to the wall over the flames. Her body catches fire and she cries out in agony until she is dead, breaking the trance on Hansel and letting Gretel go free. Gretel decides to stay behind at the house while sending Hansel on his way with a horse. The horse brings him back to his old house, where his mother no longer stays. Gretel then sees the spirits of the dead children emerge from the trees, now free at last. However, her fingers turn black just like Holda's did, but her voiceover states that she will be brave and trust in herself.


  • Sophia Lillis as Gretel, a 16-year old girl and Hansel's older sister.[6]
  • Sam Leakey as Hansel, Gretel's 8-year old brother. Leakey is making his acting debut.[7]
  • Charles Babalola as The Hunter, a young man who helps Gretel and Hansel early in the story.[8]
  • Alice Krige as Holda / The Witch, a terrifying and powerful evil witch who lives in the shadows of the dark wood and kidnaps Gretel and Hansel.[7]


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.[10] 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.[11] In April 2019, Alice Krige, Jessica De Gouw, and Sam Leakey joined the cast, with Leakey making his acting debut.[10]

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 twelve-year-olds – rather a sixteen-year-old and an eight-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."[12]

Principal photography on the film began on November 9, 2018, in Dublin, Ireland, and wrapped in December 2018.[13] Additional filming and reshoots commenced in January 2019 in Langley, British Columbia, Canada.


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


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 went on to debut to $6.1 million, finishing in fourth.[15]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 62% based on 77 reviews, with an average rating of 6.16/10. 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 16 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]

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 opined, "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."

Contrarily, Andrew Barker of Variety wrote, "The problem is that so many of its virtues feel compromised," and Mark Kennedy of The Associated Press summarized, "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."


  1. ^ "'Gretel & Hansel' Are In Big Trouble In New Trailer". Retrieved February 1, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Gretel & Hansel (2020) Film Review". Retrieved February 1, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Rebecca Rubin (January 29, 2020). "Will Blake Lively's 'Rhythm Section' Fumble at the Box Office on Super Bowl Weekend?". Variety. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  4. ^ "Gretel & Hansel (2020)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  5. ^ "Gretel & Hansel (2020)". The Numbers. IMDb. Retrieved February 17, 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 Couch, Aaron (19 April 2019). "Fairytale Thriller 'Gretel and Hansel' Set 2020 Release Date (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  8. ^ 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. ^ a b Couch, Aaron (19 April 2019). "Fairytale Thriller 'Gretel and Hansel' Set 2020 Release Date (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Collis, Clark (August 26, 2019). "'It' star Sophia Lillis goes to a dark place in first look at Osgood Perkins's 'Gretel & Hansel'". Entertainment Weekly.
  13. ^ Kay, Jeremy (9 November 2018). "Dublin shoot begins on 'Gretel And Hansel'". ScreenDaily. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  14. ^ Jeremy Fuster (January 28, 2020). "'The Rhythm Section' Arrives During Super Bowl Slump Weekend for Box Office". TheWrap. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  15. ^ a b Anthony D'Alessandro (February 2, 2020). "'Bad Boys For Life' Scores Over Super Bowl Weekend With $17M+; 'Rhythm Section' Is A Mess". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 2, 2020.
  16. ^ "Gretel & Hansel (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved February 1, 2020.
  17. ^ "Gretel & Hansel Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 1, 2020.

External links[edit]