Oz Perkins’s haunting and imaginative feminist reimagining of Gretel and Hansel is easily the best horror movie of January 2020.
January is known for being a rough month for movies. Studios often dump the projects here that they don’t have much faith in succeeding. It’s a shame Gretel and Hansel wound up getting the January treatment, it deserved better.
But on the other hand, premiering last month made it stand out amidst several other failed horror movies. The Grudge, Underwater, and The Turning all wound up being lackluster, although Underwater wasn’t nearly as much of a misfire as the other two films which both managed to score a rare ‘F’ on Cinema Score.
From the wreckage of discarded movies, Gretel and Hansel easily rises to the top as the best horror movie of the year so far, and maybe just the best movie.
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For starters, Perkins’s movie is a spellbinding feast for the eyes. It’s haunting, atmospheric, and creates an illustrious, eerie, quality with its gorgeous visuals. That, combined with the irresistible occult images and excellent performances by lead actresses Alice Krige and Sophia Lillis make Gretel and Hansel a compelling experience to watch.
It’s undeniably a weird film that won’t sit right with many audience goers anticipating something more traditional. But A24 fans should feel right at home. The slow-burn pace and deeply disturbing undertones will appease those who loved films like The Blackcoat’s Daughter, The Witch, and Hereditary.
Not only that, but Gretel and Hansel change the story’s star, giving Gretel a chance to take center stage. Many of the film’s themes are about Gretel trying to find her own path in life without being overshadowed by her brother.
At times, the movie had a tendency to tell the audience its themes rather than letting the story show them naturally. I would have preferred that Gretel’s narrative moments get cut altogether as they detracted from the cinematography. It seemed like the screenplay needed to have more faith in the production values, acting, and the audience’s intelligence.
Even if you don’t find yourself engrossed in the story, the visuals alone are enough reason to watch the movie. I also enjoyed the ambiguous ending and the truly horrific secrets unveiled by Krige’s witch, Holda.
Gretel and Hansel is now playing in theaters.