Hansel and Gretel (2007 film)
|Hansel and Gretel|
Poster for Hansel and Gretel (2007)
|Revised Romanization||Henjelgwa geuretel|
|Directed by||Yim Pil-sung|
|Produced by||Choi Jae-won
|Written by||Kim Min-sook
|Music by||Lee Byung-woo|
|Edited by||Kim Sun-min|
|Distributed by||CJ Entertainment|
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Eun-soo, a salesman, is driving his car along Highway 69 while talking on the phone with his four-weeks pregnant girlfriend, Hae-young. She tells him to stay by her side for the remainder of her pregnancy, but he replies that his mother is ill and he has to visit her, leading to a quarrel as Eun-soo is driving and causing him to hit a rock and pass out. He wakes up to find himself stranded in a dark forest. He sees light from a lantern that a young girl is carrying. She introduces herself as Young-hee as they head for her house, a large house in the middle of the forest called the "House of Happy Children".
Her parents, older brother Man-bok and younger sister Jung-soon are waiting on the porch when they arrive. Eun-soo finds the children following his every move the following day. He decides to leave, but returns because it is getting dark. As he tries to leave again, he discovers that the parents are leaving, and they tell him to take care of the kids.
He soon learns from their mother, who is hiding in the attic, that they are not the children's real parents. Their car broke down on Highway 69 too, and they met Jung-soon when they explored the woods. She tells him not to believe the children. As Eun-soo makes his way out again the next day, he sees Man-bok and a couple approaching the house. The man, Byun is a seemingly amicable deacon while his wife has a malicious aura about her. Eun-soo keeps looking for clues, finding that the meat they had consumed was actually the flesh of the missing 'father' and his wife had turned into a china doll. He also notices that Byun's wife had disappeared after accusing Jung-soon for stealing her ring. At night, he secretly follows Man-bok into the woods, making a trail of breadcrumbs so he wouldn't get lost. He realizes Byun's wife had turned into an oak tree.
Man-bok stops in front of a mysterious door to a room, putting down the notebook that the siblings have been working on throughout the movie. His face changes to an old man's face as he passes the door. When he leaves, Eun-soo enters the room and looks over the notebook's contents, finding out that the children are over thirty years old. Suddenly Young-hee comes in sleepwalking, and as they talk, Eun-soo looks at her face which has become an old woman's. Eun-soo backs in shock, hitting bookcases in the room and causing notes to fall off the shelves. As he reads the notes, the reason Man-bok wanted to get rid of the couple who used to be his 'parents' is revealed. The husband did nothing but quarrel with his wife when Jung-soon accidentally stepped on shards of broken glass while playing, angering Man-bok who used his powers to almost force the husband's hand into a boiling pot of soup. Since their awareness of Man-bok's powers, the couple tried not to mess up, or they would end up dead.
Eun-soo sees more of the children's drawings in the notebook, such as a woman with mutilated limbs, a woman turned into an oak tree, a woman in a dress with red crayons splattered on her face and a man resembling himself laying on the grass beside the red flowers he had seen on his way out. He realizes that the last depiction foretells his end and is determined to stop the children before they murder him.
Meanwhile, Young-hee returns to the house upon hearing Byun singing. Eun-soo heads back too and learns that Byun is a religious cult leader trying to kill the children, and he is holding Jung-soon hostage. He knocks Byun out and listens to the children's side of the story from Young-hee in the form of a flashback.
The kids lived in an orphanage called the "House of Happy Children". The abusive caretaker raped the girls and beat the boys. Man-bok tried to save his friend Seung-ho from being beaten for spilling food, but he failed and Seung-ho was locked in a dark room. Young-hee and Jung-soon once tried to escape but came back, ending in Young-hee going into the caretaker's room to save Jung-soon from being raped. One Christmas Eve, they wondered if Santa Claus would give them presents, because they thought they weren't good that year. This led to Man-bok activating his powers, which he only realized the next morning when Santa Claus did come and told the siblings that their wishes could come true just by imagining it, and he gave them a Hansel and Gretel storybook. They believed they must reenact the story to all bad adults. The three of them then witnessed Seung-ho being forced into a sack, where he was beaten to death. Man-bok felt that this must stop. They sneaked up to the locked room which Man-bok unlocked just by imagining it. They tried to give candy to their friends inside but realized that they were all dead. The caretaker found them and was going to burn them in the fireplace, but Man-bok screamed, bringing the story back to the present as he screams when Byun rises to kill Eun-soo, causing a whirlwind in both the flashback and the present which throws the caretaker into the fireplace, and Byun is stabbed to death.
The winds stop and the children ask Eun-soo to stay with them. Eun-soo rejects them for his loved ones and suggests taking the children outside with him. The children refuse, saying adults will always be bad. Eun-soo argues that if they continued their doings, they would be bad adults too. Young-hee suddenly whispers, "Burn the notebook, so you can get out of here." He does so before Man-bok can stop him, and Eun-soo glances at the crying children as the book burns.
Eun-soo wakes up in the location Young-hee found him at. He walks up the road and sees the police, who tell him the tragic stories of Highway 69, and that they are amazed at his survival.
A year later on Christmas, Eun-soo has married Hae-young, and they have a baby boy. Hae-young asks Eun-soo to go buy milk. As he goes out, he wonders if his encounter was real or if it was a dream. His collection of news clippings of Deacon Byun (now revealed to be a serial killer and religious cult leader) who is apparently missing suggests that it was real. He comes across the same notebook that the children used and browses it. The pages are blank until the last page, which shows three children dressed like Man-bok, Young-hee, and Jung-soon all holding hands and smiling. The children had given up and realized that they didn't need parents to be a family. Eun-soo looks out the window and outside in the snow, Man-bok, Young-hee, and Jung-soon turn around and make their way back into the woods.
Cast and characters
- Chun Jung-myung as Lee Eun-soo
- The protagonist of the story. He got into a car accident and was found by one of the children in the nearby woods and taken to their home. He told the children how much he loved them and he wanted to stay, but his pregnant girlfriend and sick mother needed him. The movie centers around him trying to leave, and the events that keep him from going back home.
- Eun Won-jae as Kim Man-bok
- He is the oldest of the children, an antagonist of the film. He'd lived with his sisters in the house since he was 5, and because his father used to beat him up, he's still a bit gloomy. He has the power to control things with his mind, or telekinesis. Each time he kills someone, he drew the death of the person in detail in his notebook. He always has a mysterious aura and very bad temper. Throughout the movie, Man-bok appears to be a 13-year-old. But apparently, as Eun-soo found out in an old book, he was born in 1959.
- Shim Eun-kyung as Kim Young-hee
- She was the one who found Eun-soo. She has a tendency to keep Man-bok from getting too angry. She and her sister tried to run away from the orphanage but came back because they couldn't get out. She often sleepwalks and one time in her sleep, she told Eun-soo, "He always tells me that I'm pretty..." referring to the "Father" of the orphanage who would to rape young girls, like her. Young-hee was born in 1960, a year younger than Man-bok.
- Jin Ji-hee as Kim Jung-soon
- She's 7 years old by that time they killed the caretaker, and was told by every adult that she's a bit weak. She hates grown-ups. She liked to laugh and play with her dolls, which she always tortured. She can bring imaginary things alive much like her brother can. When Eun-soo told them a story of fairies, she put down a doll and suddenly it was alive and flew to the sky. She and Young-hee could see it, but Eun-soo didn't notice it at all, suggesting that adults are unable to see things like this.
- Park Hee-soon as Deacon Byun
- Another antagonist of the story. He and his wife get lost in the woods, eventually meeting Man-bok. He appears to be friendly, but is revealed to be a leader of a religious cult and a serial killer. He thought the children were Satan's children and ends up trying to kill them. It turned out when he was younger, he killed his own father or "I sent my father to heaven" as he put it. Finally he was stabbed by knife and died.
- Lydia Park as Kyung-sook
- Byun's wife, who intended to take away the children's jewelry. After she blamed Jung-soon for her lost jewelry, Man-bok turned her into an oak tree.
- Jang Young-nam as Soo-jung ("Mother")
- Kim Kyung-ik as Young-shik ("Father")
- Go Joon-hee as Hae-young
- The second time Eun-soo tries to get out, he came back to the house and asked the kids, who were playing, for help. Young-hee said, "You should've marked your way with breadcrumbs," pointing to the original story where Hansel would use breadcrumbs as marks to get back home. In the scenes after, Eun-soo is taking Young-hee's advice when following Man-bok into the woods.
- Kyung-sook, after stopping into the house, noticed some jewels and whispered, "Then, there must be a pumpkin wagon and red shoes somewhere." Referring to the fairytales Cinderella and The Red Shoes (which coincidentally were both adapted into South Korean horror films).
- There is another scrapbook which Man-bok had and it contained pictures of them playing in it, but until the end of the movie it didn't tell what the story had to do with the book. The book was shown in the flashbacks (when Man-bok told the new father about the scrapbook and showed it to him) and when the deacon looked over some pages and found a knife.
- Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival 2008 - Special Mention from the European Federation of Fantastic Film Festivals Jury
- Vancouver International Film Festival - Closing film, Dragons and Tigers section
- Sitges Film Festival 2008 - Nominated, Best Film
- London Film Festival 2008
- Gérardmer Film Festival 2009 - Nominated, Grand Prize Competition
- Fantasporto 2009
- Calgary Underground Film Festival 2009
- Dublin International Film Festival 2010
- United Kingdom: January 16, 2009
- Canada: March 6, 2009 (Quebec & Montréal); March 27, 2009 (Toronto); April 24, 2009 (Vancouver)
- France: April 1, 2009
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- From Calum Waddell, Fangoria: "...now you can add Hansel and Gretel to the list of instant classics. This freaky fable manages to outdo even the likes of Pan's Labyrinth and The Orphanage in its presentation of a bold and beautiful, but still downright terrifying, adult nightmare. See it and prepare to be amazed. It is one of the year’s best."
- From Rob Daniel, Sky Movies: "...likely to become one of the year’s freshest, most memorable horror movies. Stylish, imaginative, and with a third act story twist, this is yet further proof that Korea currently stands as Asia’s premiere film factory. ... this delightfully grim horror is worth seeking out. Just follow the breadcrumb trail of positive reviews."
- From X, Twitchfilm: "It’s bizarre, deliriously creative and joyously grotesque... Every small detail shines... visually arresting. It one of those films that use every inch of film stock in a creative way, convey the right vibes, and set the whole thing on fire with their power."
- From AnthroFred, Slasherpool: "A Tale of Two Sisters meets Pan's Labyrinth in this dark fairy tale that breaths some fresh air into the South Korean horror industry. Hansel and Gretel is one of the most powerful movies I've seen in a long time. It’s pure genius."
- From Andre Koh, The UrbanWire: "Good acting aside, Hansel and Gretel looks good to watch, boasting great set design, creating fantasy-like visuals that go hand in hand with the impressive cinematography."
- From Rob Nelson, Variety: "...effective and handsomely produced, Hansel and Gretel puts the "grim" in Grimm while placing South Korean director Yim Phil-sung on the shortlist of Pan's Labyrinth emulators to trust."
- Other Reviews
- "Box office by Country: Hansel and Gretel". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-06-04
- "K-FILM REVIEWS: 헨젤과 그레텔 (Hansel and Gretel)". Twitch Film. 26 August 2008.