Hansel & Gretel took me by surprise, in a good way. I was expecting a sick film about a man who gets taken hostage by a murdering, cannibalistic family and he had to escape. I should've known more, being that the film is Korean and the way in which they make films is often character driven, complex and with heart. Hansel & Gretel provides all three. The title is a mere intelligent reference to the Grimm's story, it's not simply a re-telling but a fairytale of its own, although I wouldn't go telling this story to any kids!
The film is beautifully shot. In the beginning the colours are extremely bright and vivid, giving the film an unnatural quality so that you know that there's something wrong. However, the colours and props gradually decrease as we find out the many secrets as it leads up to a big twist at the end that I'm sure you will never see coming. What makes the film so gripping and worthy of its two hour running time is that it's highly unpredictable. When you think the films going one way it completely changes direction in a similar way to "Martyrs", although not that harrowing! Hansel & Gretel is jam-packed (Nathan's jam, in my own fairytale) with twists and turns so there's hardly ever a dull moment.
Although things start to become repetitious when our hero keeps going into the woods and getting lost, so going back to the house it's there for a reason, so that we start to feel as fed up and trapped as he does/ There's a great atmosphere of isolation and the film is incredibly eerie at times with the creepy children. Hollywood could never make a film like this because they lack the imagination and creativity that makes Hansel & Gretel so great. Many people may not totally get the fantasy element but I see it important, as it makes the film become its own fairytale and also leaves a lot of things up to interpretation, and I like that sense of ambiguity.
The protagonist is also a very likable character,being that he's the only normal one in the whole film. We uncover the mysteries with him, putting the audience in his shoes makes the film even more compelling. The screenplay is very clever and explores extremely dark and brave areas towards the end. It makes you sympathise for the characters and almost changes into a completely different genre which is very original.
Hansel & Gretel can sit up there with all the other great Korean films, I have yet to see a bad one! It also makes a nice change to do something different rather than the usual (but brilliant) bloody revenge horror/thrillers. It's highly original and compelling with a big heart. It's scary and heartfelt exactly when it needs to be with a lot of questions that can be answered in very different ways. It's eerily directed and never boring. You'll care as much as our hero about uncovering the secrets in the strange house! I think that it deserves to be seen by much more people. (Luckily I caught it on Film4, having never even heard of it before!)
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