Hollywood loves brands; it’s basically all they love now. So someone was bound to crack open the fairy tales popularized by the brothers Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, whose collections of mordant yarns have haunted children and inspired operas, music, paintings, and movies since their publication over two centuries back. Consider this a first shot: Gretel & Hansel is arriving in theaters at the end of the horror-friendly month of January, and here’s a freaky trailer to dispel any memories of previous versions of the story, much less the one starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton.
The trailer finds a re-telling that’s both classical — in the sense that it looks truly terrifying and nasty, as the Grimms’ versions often were — and modern. There’s, of course, the title, which gender flips the siblings, giving Gretel not only prime real estate but also casting Sophia Lillis, one of the break-out stars of It and our current Nancy Drew. Lillis’ Gretel is more than a few years older than her brother, played by Sam Leakey, who it appears is the one who gets them in Dutch with the evil witch, played by acclaimed character actress Alice Krige.
Krige doesn’t look like a traditional movie witch, and there appears to be quite a lot more mythology to Stretch Armstrong the Grimms’ slender tale into a feature length horror picture. The imagery, though, seems less inspired by traditional fairy tales than by The Witch, with a bit of Midsommar thrown in there for good measure. In any case, it’s almost certain that no parent in 2020 is going to take their wee ones to see this version of the story of Gretel and Hansel.
The movie hits theaters on January 31.