Fairy tales are often far more sinister than their reputation gives them credit for, and this new trailer released for the upcoming Gretel & Hansel looks to be maintaining that tradition by diving directly into the darkness of the medieval Black Forest.
The story is one of the most famous of the assortment collected by academics Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, seeing a brother and sister get lost in the woods after their trail of breadcrumbs leading back home is eaten by birds. They stumble upon a building made of bread, cake and sugar – most often referred to as a gingerbread house – wherein lives a witch who plans to fatten them up and eat them.
This version comes courtesy of Osgood Perkins, director of the underrated and sinister I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, and stars Sophia Lillis (It: Chapter One) as the eponymous lost girl and Alice Krige (Star Trek: First Contact, Carnival Row) as the witch. The swapping of the order in which the names of the siblings are traditionally listed also signifies that Gretel will be far more of a focal point due to being a teenager, while Hansel is still a little boy she has to take care of.
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Unlike several renowned fairy tales, the story maintained its bite due to escaping dilution by Disney, although has nevertheless been adapted numerous times, most recently with no less than three separate films all released in 2013: the enjoyably ludicrous action flick Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, modern day stoner comedy Hansel & Gretel Get Baked, and a third produced by reliably insane DTV schlock factory The Asylum.
Since cultural osmosis has allowed Hansel & Gretel’s primary beats to remain well known even among people who have never read the story or watched an adaptation of it, it raises the question of precisely what there is to be gained from another retelling of the tale, especially one that, if the cursory details gleaned from the trailer are anything to go by, seems to hew fairly close to the source material. Some flashes of detail involving magic and rituals suggest the story will receive a bit of expansion and will possibly include a revelation that Gretel has the potential to become a witch herself, but aside from that, it looks like pretty standard stuff.
In any case, we won’t have to wait long to see how the story has been tweaked as Gretel & Hansel is released at the end of the month, and it certainly looks like it’ll once again remind us that children’s stories were once fearful fables that would make even grown adults want to sleep with the lights on.