I have written about my passion for literary mash-ups before — when classic fiction meets the supernatural. But I haven’t written about my interest when the same twists are taken on beloved stories/fairy tales. Like Summit Entertainment’s Red Riding Hood (2011) or the newly released Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters.
The famed story, part of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, has been passed down through time and goes something like this: a brother and sister are sent into the woods to fend for themselves by parents who can no longer afford to feed then. Lost and hungry, the siblings stumble upon a house made of candy. Finding themselves unable to control their hunger, they eat from the house, which turns out to be a clever trick of a cannibalistic witch to lure them into her home. Trapped as slaves while the witch feeds them in effort to fatten them up, the two eventually overthrow the witch and burn her in the often she planned to cook them in.
The story has undergone extensive analysis over the years, and like most Grimm’s fairy tales, was created not as a bedtime story for sweet dreams, but essentially, to keep children from being bad. (Seriously, that’s what Grimm’s Fairy Tales were all about). But unlike the take, the new movie takes an interesting twist on the fable picking up years after Hansel and Gretel escape the witch’s cottage and are now grown bounty hunters who track and kill witches all over the world.
Given that plot you know I had to see it.
While I expected more from Jeremy Renner (Hurt Locker) and Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace) as the film’s Hansel and Gretel, it’s kind of hard to be serious when you’re well, a witch hunter. So remove the serious acting expectations and layer in the supernatural and you have a pretty decent flick. I didn’t enjoy it as much as Red Riding Hood — let’s be clear, the eye candy in that movie was insane – re: Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons — not to mention the lovely Amanda Seyfried, who in my eyes can do no wrong, encouraged a more ethereal, fantasy vibe in that flick. But I will give Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters credit for bringing to the screen an interesting spin on a tale that as been told for over two hundred years, as well as roping in the always creepy Famke Janssen, who gives me goosebumps as the Phoenix in Xmen, and makes my skin crawl as this film’s antagonist, the most evil of wicked witches.
There are so many movies out right now that I want to see and while I could have seen any of those on my list, I’m glad I checked this one out. Last week was rough and I needed something to take my mind off of it. And a Sunday afternoon movie that delivered ass kicking witch hunters did just the trick.