Hansel and Gretel

((summary taken from jdramas at livejournal))

헨젤과 그레텔

A children's beloved fairy tale takes a bizarre and frightening twist in Hansel and Gretel, a blood-spatting fantasy horror from award-winning director Lim Pil Seong. In the classic folk tale, the two young protagonists happily find their way back home after pushing the evil witch into the burning furnace. But beneath its happy telling lies the disturbing truth that traces roots back to one of history's darkest times when poverty forced many parents to abandon their kids...

While on his way to reunite with his long-lost mother, Eun Soo runs into an accident and loses consciousness. Waking up in the middle of a dark forest, he meets a red-cloaked girl who guides him to her eerie-looking house where he meets her strange family. Though it's quite obvious that there are no contacts with the outside world, the house is somehow always filled with toys, sweets, and other unimaginable goodies. Eun Soo soon learns there is no way out of the forest and a few days later, he notices that the children are bringing in more grown-ups from the woods..
Cast: Chun Jung Myung, Eun Won-Jae, Sim Eun-Kyeong, Jim Ji-Hee
Directed by: Lim Pil-Seong

My Rating:

Originally, I was under the impression that this was another horror movie (which is what the summary from livejournal describes it as). However, after searching around the internet I learned that very few people actually consider it a horror film, but instead categorize it as a fantasy drama. After seeing the film for myself, I'm still under the impression that it's mainly horror, or a 'dark fantasy drama' at best.
Anyway, in the beginning, this movie really freaked me out.
When I say "freaked out", I don't mean it scared me or had my nerves on a wire. I mean, the acting was so strange and strained, that it was almost funny: I wasn't sure what to make of it. It wasn't scary... it was just so odd, and a far cry from what I've come to expect from these type of movies... it was like watching wind-up dolls acting, and finding myself in some really weird, warped dream.

It didn't take long to realize this is all intentional...

The reasons quickly become obvious as everything in Hansel and Gretal slowly starts to make sense. In the end, this is actually one of the things I liked about the movie. We're given pieces of a puzzle throughout its 116 minute run, and don't get to see the whole picture until the very end. Everything we're watching is a mystery, and watching the mystery unfold is what kept me watching. And it just kept getting stranger and stranger... though in a good way. ^_^

The child actors were just amazing. I was very impressed with their acting, and really felt for their situation. And that evil religious guy gave me the creeps, so he must have done something right. The main character was good, though honestly, it didn't seem that hard of a role to play. I'm guessing just about anyone could have pulled it off... still, he did do a great job. He really embodied the "nice uncle" that people can easily relate to. (Update: After experiencing Chun Jung Myung's overwhelming greatness in What's Up Fox? I hereby recant my initial reaction to his acting in this film: he was brilliant, and I plan on marrying him sometime in the near future. This movie's oddity must have affected me more profoundly than originally thought.)

Now for the directing. I really liked the way it was shot... the director was great and really knew what he was doing. There were so many interesting scenes that it was hard for me to decide which shots to use from all my screencaps. And I really loved the shifting of the seasons throughout the film, the use of the forest for its setting, the children's clothing, the creepy attic, the door in the forest... and of course the references to the original story Hansel and Gretel that were scattered throughout. Especially the use of breadcrumbs and the oven.

However, I can't say that the plot in the end was completely original. I've seen several plots just like this from various American television shows, namely episodes from The Twilight Zone and (possibly) Most Amazing Stories or Tales from The Dark Side. Of course, it was the first time I'd seen this sort of twist in an Asian movie, so I guess I have to give it some credit for that. Plus, it was used well.

The only problem I had with it overall, was that there are so many unanswered questions in the end. Granted, they weren't really necessary to understand the general plot, but still, they would have been nice to know more about. And also, I still don't completely understand the significance of the ending. I was really hoping it would end differently, although it still managed to end some-what happily.

Overall, it was enjoyable, unique, and fun to watch. I'm not sure if everyone would like it... but if you're a fan of series like The Outer Limits, Tales from the Darkside, or The Twilight Zone (like I am), then you'd probably enjoy it. ^_^

But on another note... I still say this had more elements of horror than drama, so a horror-fantasy is how I'm going to categorize it. After all, you can't have a song with little kids singing "la la la" in a creepy voice, have a dark haired "ghost" reach out of an attic door, pictures of creepy rabbit-men on the walls, and a little girl sitting in a room tearing stuffing out of a stuffed bear, and claim it DOESN'T have elements of horror.

My Rating:


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