“You’ve already become the hero of our story”
Every now & then a movie comes along which simply blows me away & restores my faith in genre movies. As every genre buff will know too well, for every great movie there are 20 utter stinkers. Hansel & Gretel is one of those movies that demonstrates just how good a movie can be. It is nothing short of genius & could sit proudly & justifiably in my Hall Of Fame.
Eun-su is a salesman & travelling by car to see his mother who is ill. Along the way Eun-su calls his pregnant girlfriend & they get into an argument. As they argue Eun-su’s car hits a rock & he loses control, flipping the car in the crash. Eun-su wakes a few hours later, dazed, in a dark forest. He wanders off to find help but soon collapses again. When he wakes, he sees a girl with a lantern. She tells him her name is Young-hee & guides him to her house in the middle of the wood. There is a sign by the fence which says “the home of happy children” They are met at the door by Young-hee’s parents & her two siblings Man-bok her older brother & Jeong-sun her little sister. Once inside Eun-su begins to notice the parents acting nervously & strangely. He is told he can rest at the house overnight & leave in the morning. Eun-su tries to leave the next day but he gets lost in the forest & as it gets dark is forced to return to the house. As he arrives back Eun-su passes the parents, who inform him they are leaving & ask if he can look after the kids for a short while. The longer he stays in the house the more disturbed Eun-su becomes. The TV plays the same violent cartoon endlessly, even though it isn’t plugged in & he hears noises in the attic. When Eun-su investigates the attic he finds the children’s mother. She tells him that she is not the children’s parent but like Eun-su was brought to the house after her car broke down. She warns Eun-su that the kids are dangerous & not to be trusted. Eun-su tries to leave again but meets Man-bok in the forest, he is accompanied by a lay preacher & his wife whose car has broken down. What is the children’s sinister secret & who is the preacher & what does he want with the children?
Hansel & Gretel is a wonderful movie, it brings to mind classic Tim Buton (circa Edward Scissorhands) & Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) yet in many ways this movie even eclipses those directors & their movies. It is yet another example of why, when it comes to the horror genre the Korean film industry seems to be head & shoulders above every one else. Visually the movie is stunning. The cinematography & set design are superb. The interior of the house looks incredible & the scenes in the forest are, at times breathtaking. The movie is quite long, clocking in at just under two hours. Director Yim-pil Sung takes his time weaving his plot, giving plenty of time for character development. The acting is first-rate, each & every cast member puts in a faultless performance. The acting by the three child actors is staggeringly good with a special mention to Shim-eun Kyung who plays Young-hee. Her performance at the movies’ climax is incredibly emotional & powerful. What Yim-pil Sung has created with Hansel & Gretel is a wonderfully dark adult fairytale. Visually stunning & carefully scripted, it’s a truly a minor masterpiece. It’s a complex movie & not just another “evil children” movie. While the children seem to be the villains of the piece, as the movie draws towards its climax all is not what it seems. If you fail to be moved by this movie then quite frankly you have no soul. I will admit this movie will not appeal to everyone. Anyone looking for endless gore & carnage will be incredibly disappointed. This is not a traditional horror movie. But for anyone looking for something different & intelligent should look no further than this movie.
Are you still sitting here reading this? Go see this movie, I promise you that you won’t be disappointed, instead you will be rewarded with something special. Not that I really need to say it but this film is highly recommended.