Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hansel & Gretel (South Korea; Pil-Sung Yim, 2007)

 Contrary to what might be expected, this is not a film version of the Grimms' fairy tale. While its title does refer to the classic children's story, it's implications are taken into darker terrain. Beautifully shot, Hansel & Gretel follows Eun-Soo (Jeong-myeong Chen) as he wakes up from a car crash in a thick and very green forest. Bloodied and confused, he follows  the young girl who discovered him back to her cottage-like house, which looks like it belongs on the cover of a christmas card; a quality we soon learn is not restricted to the house's exterior. Inside, we are introduced to the young girl's temperamental older brother, gap-toothed little sister and stressed-out parents. With the phone supposedly cut-off and the forest impossible to break through, Eun-Soo is forced to spend a couple of nights over. When he wakes up one morning to discover that the parents have disappeared, he is left alone to deal with these increasingly freaky children. When another couple gets brought in from the forest, he uses the distraction to find out more about where these kids came from. Eun-Soo's journey of discovery is dark yet enchanting, the true nature of these small beings being a spooky treat to discover. Without being excessively violent, Hansel & Gretel creates a reclusive world where the possibility of violence is however always present; and at the hands of children no less. This magic-filled chills-fest is creatively absorbing as it exposes the viewer to monsters young and old, through a polished lens that reflects the children's unlimited powers of imagination.

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