werewolf, werewolves and lycans


It’s slow and the ending is anticlimactic. But man, it’s pretty.

The Victorians pulled the teeth from our fairytales, which were, in their original forms, pure Horror stories. Modern filmmakers have undertaken the crusade to put those teeth back into them, and GRETEL AND HANSEL largely counts as a success in this quiet cultural and artistic battle (not that anybody is really fighting them). It removes some of the familiar fairytale trappings, like the Gingerbread House, to offer us a more realistic interpretation. The basis of the story, Hansel and Gretel being turned out into the forest to starve, remains, but here we see that other options were considered: Gretel could have whored herself out, as she has offers, but her pride and dignity will not allow it. Seeking sanctuary in the forest is the more acceptable option for her, even if it means making that decision for her little brother as well. And the motivations of Holda the Witch, which is to eat the children—a clear allusion to cannibalism in times of famine, just as is the turning out of the children—is left mostly intact. That is to say, the Witch still wants to eat *one* of the children. Or wants Gretel to.

Finn Wolfhard was already a star before he appeared in the two IT movies thanks to STRANGER THINGS, so he doesn’t count to my mind as the biggest breakout star of the former. That honor would seem to go to Sophia Lillis, who as Gretel delivers us a more fleshed-out (if you will pardon the pun) protagonist whose outlook should jibe well with modern feminist sensibilities, a young heroine for the #metoo age. If only she’d been given a bigger stage to dance upon.

Good acting and gorgeous cinematography help compensate for a sometimes plodding pace and sedate finale. Grade: B+.

The Evil Cheezman • February 7, 2020

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