If you go down to the woods today…
The original fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel, as told by the Brothers Grimm, is pretty spooky stuff in its own right. It tells of two small children who happen upon a house made of candy, only to be trapped by its evil witch owner and fattened up for her pot. Even though it has a happy ending, with the kids working together to outwit the witch and make their escape, it’s still the stuff of child nightmares.
So it’s easy to see why South Korean film-maker Yim Pil-Sung has chosen to base his fourth film on this grim tale and, in his talented hands, it’s turned into a creepy modern fable on the dangers of excess.
When young father-to-be Eun-soo (Chun Jeong-myoung) crashes his car late one night, he wanders dazed and confused until he meets a young girl. She takes him to an isolated house, where the phones don’t work but there’s plenty of toys, sweets and childish things. When Eun-soo meets the girl’s two siblings and obviously terrified parents, he begins to realise all is not what it seems – and indeed it soon becomes clear that he has stumbled on something pretty horrific in nature.
Telling a classic European fairy story through Asian horror traditions is an interesting concept, and it’s made even more enthralling by the sumptuous, deep production values by Ryu Seong-hee (Oldboy, The Host). The dreamlike, slightly off-kilter visuals draw in the viewer, while the increasingly disturbing events leaves them perched on the edge of their seat. An original take on an age-old story, Hansel & Gretel is a small but powerful addition to the Eastern horror genre. 4 stars
Stars Chun Jeong-myoung, Ji-hee Jin, Hee-soon Park
Director Pil-Sung Yim
Distributor Fusion Media Sales
Released April 6th