The latest twist on a classic tale is “Gretel and Hansel”, a film that manages to look great but has a really tough time trying to figure out what it wants to do for an hour and a half.
This darker take on an already dark story gives us Gretel (Sophia Lillis from the “It” reboot) as the strong big sister to her naive but good hearted brother, Hansel. When their schizophrenic mother boots them out of their home, they’re forced into the woods where a creepy old lady (Alice Krige) welcomes the starved duo into her secluded cabin for her own evil purposes. You know the story.
Our problem is that the film spends too much time preparing to be scary without never really getting there.
We get a lot of creaky old floors and gross looking food. There is also a mythology to go with all of this that doesn’t really contribute to the events in the film enough, and we’re left waiting too long for a payoff that doesn’t satisfy. They also should have gone for the “R” rating, instead of giving us a tamer and more marketable PG-13 tale.
There are some things to like here. Lillis and Krige do some strong work here and almost manage to pull this weak script above mediocrity. Director Oz Perkins also shoots a pretty sharp looking movie and while we’re wondering what’s going to happen here, we’re never really left bored for too long.
“Gretel and Hansel” is just uneven, and it feels like a with a fuller retelling of this story we could have had a really good time. Instead we’re just getting fattened up for an easy dinner at the box office.
“Gretel and Hansel”
Running time: 1 hour and 27 minutes.