Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)
I love action films with supernatural themes but this time I felt disturbed watching Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.
The events of the last couple weeks, which caught international attention was still on my mind and watching a film that promotes burning of witches made me uneasy in the theater.
The film is a twisted take on the well know German fairy tale recorded by the Grimm brothers, and published in 1812.
Most of the story takes place sometime after the children kill the witch who lived in a house made of candy and tried to have them for dinner.
Jeremy Renner brings to life a diabetic Hansel and Gemma Arteton is clad in tight black leather to animate witch killing Gretel – a smoldering similarity to Selene from the Underworld series.
The spin on this tale starts with Hansel and Gretel being taken into the woods and abandon by their father. The original story puts this task to their step mother, who does this for her own reasons. In contrast, the father does this to save them.
Lost in the woods, the pair stumbles on a cottage made of candy which belongs to a cannibalistic witch who imprisons them and forces Hansel to eat candy to fatten him up. Unfortunately, this leaves him diabetic as an adult and has to take an insulin shot every day.
The pair manages to kill the witch and escape when the witch’s magic doesn’t seem have any effect on Gretel. They then journey on to kill more witches and become famous as witch hunters. I found them strikingly similar to the Brothers Grimm which starred the Late Heath Ledger and Matt Damon. However, the pair are violent and seem to have an appetite for blood.
Blood and violence covers this film from start to finish. As the pair battle witches and their minions, heads roll and blood splatter. But this is nothing new for writer /director Tommy Wirkola who penned the bloody Norwegian zombie comedy Dead Snow (2009).
Now, back to why I felt uneasy.The film, as entertaining as it is, focuses on witch hunting and in the opening scenes we see Peter Stomare’s character, the Sheriff, trying a woman accused of witchcraft and promising to burn her – to the extent that it even condones witch burning.
I understand the difference between real and reel life. However, I believe the cinema should have shown a bit more sympathy and delayed the screening for a few weeks.
Anyway, I’m not saying this film is not for you, but if you want to see it then I suggest a very strong stomach.