Hansel and Gretel (2007)
A young man, Eun-Soo, is involved in an accident and seeks refuge at an isolated house in the middle of the woods. The house is populated by a seemingly idyllic family; except the children seem to be in total control of the parents, who themselves are petrified of angering their ‘little angels’. When Eun-Soo tries to leave, he finds he cannot escape the woods no matter how hard he tries…….
A little girl with a lantern leads a dazed car-crash victim through some eerie woods to the ‘House of Happy Children’…… That’s how Pil-Sung Yim’s “Hansel and Gretel” begins. Less of a horror film and more of a nebulous fairytale, this South Korean movie cajoled me for much of the first hour. The movie is well-worth a watch for the handsome cinematography alone, but if you’re looking for an easily accessible and cogent narrative, you won’t find it here.
The colourful set-design, arrogant camerawork and the unsettling performances of the ‘children’ are the big positives, but unfortunately the ambiguous plot details end up being irritating rather than interesting. That said, the final reveal is well-paced, invoking sympathy for our ‘evil’ protagonists and adding a layer of depth to the film’s plot that I simply wasn’t expecting. This revelatory conclusion takes us back in time to the haunting past of the house and its occupants.
Notwithstanding the directorial skill shown in the finale, there’s still a really out-of-place sub-plot, involving a religious cultist who appears at the house, which is not only needless but acutely distracting from a narrative the viewer is already struggling with.
Partly because it isn’t a ‘direct’ horror film, “Hansel and Gretel” is not a scary movie. Nevertheless, and despite the film’s preoccupation with the genre mainstay of demonic children, it’s refreshingly different to other entries in the J- and Asian-horror scene. Certainly, the movie’s technical abilities overpower its shortcomings.
hotdog rating: 7/10