Gretel & Hansel

The girl finally gets top billing in Gretel & Hansel, but the true star here is director Osgood Perkins – who’s already written and directed two minor horror classics that have been unfairly buried under a streaming quagmire of small-screen content. Unfortunately, Perkins is just hired help for Orion Pictures in this latest updating of the classic fairy tale. He probably deserves credit for how the film avoids the kind of New Hollywood Rules that made the recent remake of Suspiria so predictable. There are even a few fun turns as the story stays true to the original telling. The big change is that Gretel (played by It’s Sophia Lillis) is now a much-older sister to Hansel. Also, the kids get chased out of their home by an angry mother brandishing an axe after Gretel makes a stand during a 19th century #MeToo moment. That means the aspiring militant is particularly susceptible to Alice Krige’s feminist prodding as a vintage Wicked Witch with an unusually large oven in the basement. Perkins still has to struggle to provide some visual flair as his heroine takes way too long to discover that she’s in danger. A brisk running time can’t hide that the script should’ve really been a pretty good segment in a Brothers Grimm anthology.

[PG-13]