Review: Hansel And Gretel

hanselandgretel dvd coverGenre:  Drama/ Fantasy/ Horror/ Mystery

Director: Pil-Sung Yim

Writers: Min-sook Kim (story), Pil-Sung Yim (screenplay)

Cast: Jeong-myeong Cheon, Shim Eun-kyung, Yeong-Nam Jang, Ji-jee Jin, Kyeong-ik Kim, Hee-soon Park, and Eun Won-jae.

MPAA Rating: Not rated by MPAA

Summary: A stranded motorist is led to an idyllic house deep in the forest by a young girl he meets after his accident.  There is something amiss with her and her two other siblings.  This is a dark, modern, and fantastic take on a classic fairy tale.

Run Time: 117 min.

Country of Origin: South Korea

Original Release date: Dec. 27, 2007

Language: Korean w/ English subtitles

If you haven’t heard of this film, don’t worry, it’s a foreign film that hasn’t seen a lot of US press, but needs to be seen.  Since it’s the fall season, I thought I’d bring you this film since this time of year makes me think of dark fairy tales.  I had the opportunity to see a screening of “Hansel and Gretel” at the Asian Film Festival of Dallas this year and now it will be available on Region 1 DVD on December 29, 2009 (already available in other Region formats).

hansel and gretel castWhen I first heard about his film, I thought it was a horror treatment of the classic Grimm story, but it is in fact, a dark fantasy.  “Hansel and Gretel” are not the central figures of this story, but this film uses the original fairy tale as a jumping off point to tell its tale.  I won’t give too much away as this is a thriller that keeps you guessing till the end of the film.  The reveal is so rich that I’d really hate to spoil it for you so I’ll give you an introductory bread crumb to start with:

A man named Eun-soo, gets into a car accident on a lonely stretch of highway while on his way to see his ill mother.  He stumbles off into the forest in search for help and meets a young girl who leads him to her house, two other siblings, and their incredibly polite parents who insist that he stay the night with them.  The next morning, he discovers that the parents have left him to look after the children for the next few days.  Where did the parents go?  Why did the parents behave so strangely towards the children?  How can he help the children?

Right away, the atmosphere of the film delivers a fantastic feel.  I have got to hand it to the art department for this film- they have things crafted down to the tiniest detail to birth this dark fairy tale onto the screen.  Top notch performances by everyone in the cast, especially the children, make you wonder what other Korean films you need to go see.

“Hansel and Gretel” was written and directed by Yim Pil-sung, who also wrote and directed the claustrophobic Namguek-ilgi (aka Antartic Journal) that won the Orient Express Award in 2005.  Yim Pil-sung’s talent for story-telling, setting an intriguing and engaging pace, and fantastically lush visuals make this one of my favorite films of the entire film festival.

hansel_and_gretel_1After the screening, several of the festival attendees and I paused to reflect on this film and we all came to draw the same comparisons with Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” in that they are akin in atmosphere and both tap into the dark cruelty that people are capable of and the power of children’s imagination.  This is one creepy, dark fairy tale you don’t want to miss!

“Hansel and Gretel” won the International Fantasy Film Special Jury Award and Orient Express Section Grand Prize in 2009.

Special thanks to the Asian Film Festival of Dallas for allowing me the opportunity to review several of their films.  More reviews from this festival are coming!

Trailer for the “Hansel and Gretel” (no subtitles, but you get the drift!):

I give “Hansel and Gretel” Four out of Five stars!




Buy/pre-order the DVD here at Amazon: Region 1, Region 2.

Lillian 'zenbitch' Standefer
Written by Lillian 'zenbitch' Standefer

is Senior Managing Editor for SciFi, skips along between the lines of sci-fi, fantasy, and reality, and is living proof that geek girls really DO exist!