Thursday, August 8, 2013

Review 195: "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters"

"Burn 'em all."


Neither Horror Nor Comedy.

      Oh, god, this was not worth it. This was literally in my Netflix Queue for a solid 2 and a half months. I could have gotten so many other movies, but no, I waited for this one. You know, this past January might have been the worst January for movies. Ever. In all of time. Directed and written by Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow) and follows Gretel (Gemma Arterton) and Hansel (Jeremy Renner) who, after escaping from the witch in the candy house when they were kids, grow up to become witch hunters. There hunts take them to a small town whose Sheriff (Peter Stormare) is struggling to deal with a rash of kidnappings. When the sister and brother discover that the witch Muriel (Famke Janssen), they team up with fan Benjamin (Thomas Mann) and accused Mina (Pihla Viitala) in order to stop the witches and save the kids and town and world from... witches?

Photobomb level: Jean Gray.
Blood and Gutless

      Hansel and Gretel is the victim of tone. The film is trying for a horror comedy feel. It does involve witches getting their heads violently chopped off and a surprisingly massive amount of blood. It is, however, also produced by Will Ferrell and is called Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. The problem is how the tone is approached. Most horror comedies want us laughing at the extremeness of the violence and the characters reaction to it. When gallons of blood start to shoot out of the walls in Evil Dead II, we aren't supposed to be laughing at the blood, but at the extreme amount of iut and Ash's reaction to it. Here, the film seems to think that brutal, grotesque violence is the big joke and constantly ask us to laugh at people being horribly beaten and bloodied. Especially seeing as how the film gear most of it's violence towards the all-female witches and the films starts to feel uncomfortable real quick. How gleefully it shows women getting punched in the face by men as a running gag is, naturally, hard to watch and not that funny.

Gretel and Hansel

      It's even more uncomfortable when most of the beats on the main characters are directed towards Gretel. Hansel gets thrown into trees and stabbed sure, but Gretel is beaten on several different occasions, thrown through walls and coated in blood. The film continues it's misogynistic streak with Gretel more though. Throughout the movie, Gretel is shown to be more capable than Hansel in almost every way. She gets more done, figures the whole plot out, comes back from several beatings. Hansel gets lost, beaten, has sex and spends most of the film bumbling into plot points. When Hansel and Gretel stumble into their childhood in the woods of the town their hunting witches in with a witches lair underneath it, Gretel figures out that something might be up, but Hansel of course does think anything of it. Yes, really. Arterton steals the show here and Gretel is a great female character. Until the third act, where she's kidnapped and has to be rescued by Hansel. Hansel also gets all the film's narration and gets to fight the big bad with little help from Gretel. Yeah, that completely sucks. Other than that, the witches are lame thanks to some surprisingly non threatening makeup. In all seriousness, Sabrina the Teenage Witch is scarier. There is also a cool troll character and it's always nice to see some practical effects.

Candy crushed. Heh, get it?
The Verdict

      Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is just a really lame, really uncomfortable movie. The tone shifts wildly between slapstick comedy and brutal horror, making most of the bloody violence feeling like they're played for laughs, which makes the fact that most of the violence is against women a lot hard to watch. The witches are laughable and the film looks a little cheap. But worst of all, Gretel, a great female characters, is reduced to damsel in distress in the third act and finds herself on the end of more brutal beatings than Hansel. Plus, even when she's covering in blood after being beaten, the camera still loves to show off Arterton's cleavage. Yeah, this film would be offensive if it wasn't so lazy. It's just not worth it. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters gets 1 and a half stars out of 6. 

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