From his directorial debut in 2015, Oz Perkins has been quietly amassing a cult following in genre cinema.
His third feature is a twist on the classic Grimm fairytale of Hansel and Gretel. Now you may roll your eyes at another re-invention of an old story, but Gretel and Hansel whilst relying on some classic tropes does offer something refreshing.
Perkins films with a hazy, dream-like quality, which keeps the audience guessing during some of the more outlandish scenes.
Here Gretel (portrayed by IT’s Sophia Lillis) very much takes charge of the narrative, with Hansel very much taking a backseat to her interactions with the Witch.
Some scenes are just the two characters sitting and talking but there is an overriding sense of tension and dread which comes from the superb production design which blends with their dialogue so well.
Lillis is superb throughout but it is Alice Krige’s portrayal of the witch which the MVP here, again blending classic iconography with some fresh beats.
Perkins also has an interesting relationship with colour as he uses bright and elaborate colours to make some scenes really pop. The woods themselves almost become a character too, as Hansel and Gretel approach the witch’s lair.
He clearly understands the source material and has gone out of his way to layer the story more.
Gretel and Hansel does have a slump midway, but rouses for a fantastic finale which hints there is more to this story than we previously ever thought.
Oz Perkins is definitely a genre filmmaker to keep an eye out for.
Watch the trailer for Gretel and Hansel below –