By: Addison Wylie
Recently, we’ve seen Hansel and Gretel battle witches with steampunk weaponry in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and defeat a nefarious pot-peddling evildoer in Hansel & Gretel Get Baked. I’m still racking my brain as to why these Brothers Grimm siblings got the resurgence they did.
Perhaps, the timing of it all makes H&G initially refreshing. It’s nice to see filmmaker Danishka Esterhazy take a low-key approach to this fairy tale and give it its own spin when it arrives to expected story beats – like the witch with the candy house.
H&G is a hard movie to invest in at first because of how Esterhazy seems to be lacking a voice along with the muttering actors. What the film eventually offers, however, is an unsettling view of an unfit upbringing through the eyes of a child. This POV is a similar tactic movie goers saw in Beasts of the Southern Wild. In the case of H&G though, little Gemma (played by Breazy Diduck-Wilson) is more aware to the danger around her. She’s very protective of her younger brother.
Diduck-Wilson is given enough direction to counter her natural innocence, and her acting finds an effective groove. Meanwhile, Gemma’s brother Harley (played by Annika Elyse Irving) depends on more sweetened purity in the performance. It’s understandable why Irving has been directed this way, but his constant carping serves as an inevitable irritation.
When Gemma and Harley stumble upon a new house, the film becomes worryingly seedy. Some of these instances lend effectual beats, but H&G’s flabby pace muddles whatever works.
H&G is an unbearably slow crawl to the finish. The acting by the adults gets to be more amateur and the aimless narrative (penned by Esterhazy and Rebecca Gibson) devolves sluggishly to an anticlimactic flop. I wish those who try to muster through H&G luck, because I nearly gave up altogether.
Catch H&G at Toronto’s Canadian Film Festival on Saturday, March 22 at 6:30 pm at The Royal. Before the film, the audience will be treated to the short film Kate.