The son of the original Psycho has reimagined the witchy tale from The Brothers Grimm and it’s being released on January 31st.
Hansel & Gretel. Finally put to paper and originally published in 1812 by The Brothers Grimm, the story of “Hansel & Gretel” had filtered down through history in bits and pieces for hundreds of years. A cannibalistic witch here, a house made of bread and sweets there. Toss in some kids taken out and abandoned in the woods so their parents wouldn’t starve and voilà! You’ve got yourself a folktale known around the world.
At the end of this month, we’ll get a chance to check out the latest incarnation of this ancient fairytale courtesy of Orion Pictures and writer/director Osgood ‘Oz’ Perkins — son of actor Anthony Perkins, the innkeeper with mommy issues in Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960).
The switcheroo with the names in the movie’s title is apparently due to one of the changes Perkins and screenwriter Rob Hayes made. Rather than having two pre-teen kids wandering around in the forest, Gretel & Hansel will focus on 16 year old Gretel as she deals with her brother Hansel who is half her age.
It’s awfully faithful to the original story, it’s got really only three principal characters: Hansel, Gretel, and the Witch.Interview with Oz Perkins, EW (Aug 2019)
We tried to find a way to make it more of a coming of age story. I wanted Gretel to be somewhat older than Hansel, so it didn’t feel like two 12-year-olds — rather a 16-year-old and an 8-year-old. There was more of a feeling like Gretel having to take Hansel around everywhere she goes, and how that can impede one’s own evolution, how our attachments and the things that we love can sometimes get in the way of our growth.
With Gretel getting top billing this time around, the filmmakers had to find an appropriately trending actor to fill the role and that’s exactly what they did. Still riding the wave of genre awesomeness from portraying young Beverly Marsh in It (2017) and It: Chapter Two (2019), Sophia Lillis will be taking the lead in Gretel & Hansel. Gretel’s little brother Hansel will be played by relative newcomer Samuel Leakey.
As director Perkins said, there are really only three roles in the movie; Gretel, Hansel, and… The Witch. The movie is a guaranteed failure without a wonderfully disturbing cannibalistic Witch, but once again the casting department came up with an excellent choice; Alice Krige. As Christabella in Silent Hill (2006), she led the fanatical cult of The Brethren. And as the Borg Queen in Star Trek: First Contact (1996) she creeped us all out with her slithery cyborg spine. Ms. Krige’s definitely got an unnerving side to her.
Oz Perkins gave us some decent celluloid as writer/director of The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015) as well as some tepid fare in I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016). The visuals in Gretel & Hansel are dark and slick. Kinda reminiscent of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) or Netflix’s Stranger Things (2016-), but will it all amount to more than a good looking trailer?
We’ll find out January 31st.
Article by Robert Zilbauer.