“Fantasy Island” stars Michael Peña, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Austin Stowell, Portia Doubleday, Jimmy O. Yang, Ryan Hansen, and Michael Rooker. Released on February 14, 2020, the film is about a group of people who discover the remote island’s dark nature.
The film is directed by Jeff Wadlow, who also directed films such as “Cry Wolf”, “Never Back Down”, and “Truth or Dare”. It is based on the 1977 television series of the same name created by Gene Levitt. It’s always nice to see our dreams come to life right in front of our eyes, but there are some dreams that should just stay hidden in our minds. Valentine’s Day was a great day for couples to watch a bunch of cheesy romance films until the sun goes down. It was also a great day for them to watch a scary film that’ll make them cuddle each other with fright. Today, I will be spending the last day of this romantic holiday weekend on an island that’s filled with many possibilities…and many frightening fantasies that could kill me, courtesy of the people from Blumhouse. “Fantasy Island” was a pretty successful series back in the late 1970s. The show, which has multiple guests encountering their fantasies on a mysterious island, spanned two television movies, seven seasons, and a one-season revival in 1998. Based on the title alone, it sounded like something that would make for a great fantasy show for the whole family, but it’s actually not as the fantasies that were shown in the series come with a price. With a concept like that, it’s no surprise that Jason Blum and his Blumhouse team wanted to reimagine it as a full-fledged horror film. I was intrigued by the film’s plot alone, but I was also concerned about it because of the involvement of Jeff Wadlow, who helmed the extremely disappointing “Truth or Dare” two years ago. That film gave me another reason why I should never play that game with my friends. Despite my concerns, I was willing to remain optimistic towards it. I mean, it couldn’t be as bad as “Truth or Dare”, right?
Similar to the source material, the film focuses on a group of guests who all won a contest that takes them to a remote tropical island resort owned by the mysterious Mr. Roarke (Peña). There, he encourages them to live out their best fantasies during their stay. Unfortunately, their vacation quickly turns into a nightmare when they find out that their dreams turn out to be more real (and deadly) than they thought. In order to escape with their lives, the guests must uncover the island’s secrets before their fantasies kill them off. As expected, the story is the entire plot of the “Fantasy Island” show, but with a horror twist. I haven’t actually watched the show myself, so this review is actually my first hands-on experience with the concept. What got me interested in the film was its theme, which is wish fulfillment. Seeing your personal desires come true is cool and all, but they all have its share of consequences. It’s like every episode of “The Fairly OddParents”. Every wish that can go wrong will go wrong. The film had the opportunity to take advantage of its theme by providing a fun, frightening and motivational view on the dangers of living in one’s own fantasy. Unfortunately, it let it slip by and didn’t even bother to try to catch it, resulting in another huge misfire for not just the Blumhouse team, but also for writer/director Jeff Wadlow. To be fair, it stayed true to what it set out to be, which is the darker version of the 1970s show, but it constantly struggled to maintain that tone all the way through, which is one of the major problems of the film. The marketing promised the film would have plenty of dark and scary moments that you won’t normally see in the show. That, my friends, is sadly a fantasy. In reality, the film didn’t know whether it wants to be a full-on horror film or not. To make matters worse, the film had a lot of potential moments that were neither frightening nor entertaining. Combine that with a trope-heavy plot and forgettable characters, and you get an uninspired and soulless fantasy that makes the counting sheep dream look like “The Godfather” in comparison. While the cast did okay in their roles, none of their performances stood out that much to me. Michael Peña did what he could as Mr. Roarke, and Lucy Hale was having a hard time impressing me with her performance as Melanie Cole, one of the island’s guests. This was the second collaboration between Hale and Wadlow following “Truth or Dare”, which tells me that Hale should find a more confident director to work with in the future. Not that there’s anything wrong with Wadlow or anything like that. It’s just the fact that his own execution on the horror genre wasn’t as daring as he wanted it to be. Jimmy O. Yang and Ryan Hansen both serve as the “comic relief” in the film as step-brothers Brax and J. D. Weaver, but their promising efforts weren’t enough to prevent me from wanting to leave the island. The only characters that I thought were more interesting were Patrick Sullivan (Stowell) and Gwen Olsen (Maggie Q) because of their personal reasons as to why they want to see their own fantasies come true. For Gwen, it was to accept a proposal that she rejected many years ago. For Patrick, it was to serve in the army in honor of his late father. Sure, you got Melanie who was traumatized by her childhood bully, but the third act somehow ruined her character in my opinion, so she doesn’t count. Those side plots alone would’ve made the film a bit better, but because of the film’s genre cliches and tame jump scares, they both came off as wasted opportunities.
Overall, “Fantasy Island” is neither scary nor clever enough to make my fantasy of getting a decent horror film come true. The actors in the film were passable in their roles, but their efforts on making this tropical vacation fun and relaxing weren’t able to cover up its majorly flawed execution on the film’s concept. With its stale story, mediocre characters, weak scares, and a bunch of horror cliches, this is another horror film that fails to deliver the frights and its convincing substance to its target audience. Maybe Jason Blum should reconsider his decision to rehire Wadlow to write and direct one of his future projects because so far, he’s not doing well with these types of films at all. Let’s hope that Blum and Leigh Whannell’s take on “The Invisible Man” will fare better than this embarrassment.
“Sonic the Hedgehog” stars Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Jim Carrey, and Tika Sumpter. Released on February 14, 2020, the film is about a sheriff who teams up with an anthropomorphic blue hedgehog to take down an evil scientist.
The film features the directorial debut of visual effects artist Jeff Fowler, and it is based on the video game franchise of the same name by Sega. There are many characters that prove themselves to be the fastest things alive, such as Superman, the Flash, and even Dash from “The Incredibles”. From the perspective of a video gamer, the fastest being on the planet is none other than a talking blue hedgehog with an attitude. Since his debut in 1991, Sonic the Hedgehog has been beloved by many gamers and modern audiences alike through his appearance in video games, comic books, and cartoons. Even the decline in quality wasn’t able to slow this blue blur down. This year, Sonic will be taking on his biggest challenge yet in order to retain his popularity, and that is starring in his first big-screen adventure alongside a bunch of live-action actors. There were multiple attempts from the people in Hollywood to make a full-length Sonic film, which began in 1994 when they tried to produce a live-action/animated film to market the cancelled “Sonic X-treme” game. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to make it past the development stage with those attempts. That all changed in 2013 when we got the announcement that a “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie was finally on its way. It was originally set to be released in November of last year, but the studio delayed it to February in order to fix Sonic’s design because apparently, everyone is having a phobia of animals being humanoid and/or realistic, including cartoon ones. Thankfully, the recent design we got now was able to calm the nitpickers down. All they have to worry about now is the film itself. The first time I encountered Sonic the Hedgehog was surprisingly not from one of his video games. Shocking, I know. It was actually from a cartoon that I usually watched on Toon Disney when I was little called “Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog”, which aired during the fall of 1993. After that, I didn’t really get into Sonic until I played “Sonic Heroes” on the Playstation 2. Again, shocking. That game, along with the other recent games and cartoons that came after it, made me appreciate the character even more because of his lovable personality and his sense of humor. So I see no reason why I should not take my time to see him take on Robotnik and his robot army on the big screen, especially since the filmmakers worked really hard to get his character design right for the fans. Hollywood was able to create a decent video game movie last year in the form of “Detective Pikachu”, so let’s see if they can do the same with this one.
The story centers on the title character (voiced by Ben Schwartz), a blue anthropomorphic hedgehog who resides in an alternate dimension that resembles Green Hill Zone from the games. He is forced to leave his world behind and travel to Earth in order to escape from those who want to use his super-speed abilities for evil purposes. His reckless actions on Earth caught the attention of the government as well as their new recruit, a wicked scientist named Dr. Robotnik (Carrey), forcing him to hide out in a small town of Green Hills. Now on the run, Sonic will have to cooperate with the town’s sheriff, Tom Wachowski (Marsden), and his wife Maddie (Sumpter) in order to evade capture and prevent Robotnik from using his powers for world domination. If you're wondering why some of those plot elements sound familiar, you’re not alone. This is somehow equivalent to the plot of the 2011 film adaptation of “The Smurfs”. You got the CGI character coming into the real world, you got the husband/wife duo who helps the CGI character, and you got the live-action antagonist who plans to use that character’s powers to take over the world. The similarities are hard to ignore. Unsurprisingly, this is another live-action/CGI hybrid kids movie that offers fast-paced action, pop culture references, and jokes that’ll make the younglings giggle with delight. Usually, these types of films don’t work well with everybody, with most die-hard fans crying foul on them for “ruining their childhood”. That might be the case for “Sonic the Hedgehog”. However, there’s a surprising amount of tolerability in its soul that will make Sonic fans rest with ease. This movie had a difficult journey towards its release, mostly due to the marketing and the issues surrounding Sonic’s original character design, but thankfully, it was able to make its way to the goal ring without losing too many lives in the process. From my personal point of view, the story in “Sonic the Hedgehog” is described as a combination between a superhero origin story for the title character and a road trip comedy that has the characters traveling from point A to point B to recover an important plot device. The story also represents a suitable message about the values of friendship that would surely inspire kids to respect those values in real life. As expected, the story was pretty darn simplistic and some of the dialogue (mostly the jokes) was downright corny. Then again, the source material was also simple and corny, so I guess I can’t complain too much about that. For those who are not big gamers and are expecting the film to have high-quality storytelling, the story can be a big turn-off. As someone who enjoys the games and the character himself, I thought the story was entertaining and cute. It set out to be what it wanted to be like the source material, and for the most part, it succeeded. I can admit that the plot did suffer a bit from its familiar cliches and its inability to delve deep into some of its elements, but like I said before, it had a good amount of tolerability to classify itself as “decent family entertainment”. Like Sonic himself, the film moves at a pretty brisk pace to maintain the kids’ attention spans. It didn’t slow down to take a few pit stops, it didn’t overcomplicate certain elements, and more importantly, it didn’t have too many scenes that were described as “unnecessary filler”. It’s simple and fun for the kids, and it’s enjoyable and charming for the parents. Plus, it works as both a nostalgia-filled adventure for big-time Sonic gamers and a suitable introduction for newcomers who are interested in the games. The cast made a solid effort in their performances, with the highlights being Schwartz and Carrey as Sonic and Robotnik respectively. Schwartz had plenty of shoes to fill when it comes to voicing Sonic. Before him, he was brought to life successfully by the other voice actors since the beginning, including my personal favorite, Roger Craig Smith, who has been voicing the character since 2010. After studying Schwartz’s vocal performance all the way through, I’m glad to say that he did an impressive job at filling in Sonic’s red and white shoes. His deliverance of his jokes and one-liners were on point like the modern Sonic from the recent games, and his mannerisms had the right amount of charisma to resemble the cool hedgehog that we all know and love. Out of all of the Sonic voice actors that I enjoy as of now, I would have to say that I enjoyed both Roger Craig Smith and Ben Schwartz the most for different reasons. I would also like to point out that Sonic’s new design was a stellar improvement over his old design. It definitely resembled the modern Sonic from the recent games, but with a new coat of paint in terms of the textures and the fur. I’m very impressed to see the care and effort that was put into this design, especially after what happened with the original design. As for Carrey, well, it’s Jim Carrey being Jim Carrey from the 1990s in a good way. His performance as Robotnik was easily one of the best parts of the film, ranging from his undeniable charm to his gleefully over-the-top sense of energy. Based on what I saw out of Robotnik (or Eggman) from the games, it’s like this character was made for Carrey. They’re both over-the-top and crazy. A match made in heaven if I do say so myself. I would even say that this is the best performance I’ve seen in a live-action/CGI film adaptation since Hank Azaria’s portrayal as Gargamel from the “Smurfs” films. The action and the humor were also fun enough to keep the film consistently entertaining. The sequences involving Sonic and Robotnik were very amusing, and the humor, although cheesy and childish at times, was able to tickle my funny bones constantly, whether it’s the references from the Sonic games or the references from pop culture. Some people might not appreciate all of the jokes that were presented in the film, but other than that, it works well for both kids and adults.
Overall, “Sonic the Hedgehog” speeds its way past its flawed plot and corny dialogue to deliver a simple and entertaining video game film that honors the title character and the source material’s lore. Not only that, but it is also a respectable and family-friendly introduction to Sega’s popular franchise for newcomers young and old. Thanks to some likable performances (particularly Schwartz and Carrey), its delightful sense of charm, its tolerable story, and its humor, this is another video game film adaptation done right. Like many other kid-friendly films, this one is not going to impress everyone, especially those who wanted deeper storytelling and award-worthy performances in these types of films. It’s another film that wants you to sit down, throw your personal problems out the window, and enjoy. I did those things and guess what? I had a good time watching it. Yes, it had its share of problems, but come on. It’s Sonic the flipping Hedgehog, not “Parasite”. After suffering from a bunch of mediocre video game adaptations from the past, it’s nice to see that Hollywood has finally found a solution to make the genre work. Let’s hope that it continues that trend with “Mortal Kombat” and “Uncharted” when they hit theaters next year.
“Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made” stars Winslow Fegley, Craig Robinson, Chloe Coleman, Ophelia Lovibond, and Wallace Shawn. Released on Disney+ on February 7, 2020, the film is about a young boy who runs a detective agency.
The film is directed by Tom McCarthy, who also directed films such as “The Visitor”, “Win Win”, and “Spotlight”. It is based on the book series of the same name by Stephan Pastis, who wrote the film’s screenplay with McCarthy. Last weekend, we had an unfortunate shortage of new films in theaters as we only have “Birds of Prey” to keep us entertained until this weekend. You know what that means? That’s right, it’s time for me to look at a new film that just premiered on Disney+. Throughout the last couple of years, I occasionally review certain movies on Netflix whenever I don’t have the time to travel to my closest cinema to see one. With the release of Disney+ back in November, I figured that it’s time for me to expand my series of streaming movie reviews a bit, and the best way to do it was by talking about the latest Disney+ original film from writer/director Tom McCarthy. This is McCarthy’s first film in five years following his Oscar win for “Spotlight” as well as his first approach into family-friendly territory since his other films were aimed towards adults. The film made its premiere at Sundance last week, and it has already garnered some pretty good reviews from critics, but is it something that Disney+ subscribers will enjoy as well?
The story mainly focuses on an 11-year-old boy named Timmy Failure (Fegley) whose imagination gets him into a series of situations while “solving” some cases with his imaginary polar bear named Total, and don’t worry, the bear’s not voiced by John Cena. Some of his cases include his missing Failure-Mobile, which is his mother’s (Lovibond) segway. The plot alone does sound suitable for kids when it comes to the imagination, the humor, and the polar bear, but that doesn’t mean that it’s made only for kids. Underneath the child-like wonder is a family-friendly representation of one of the most important phases of adolescence: learning from our mistakes. Without relying on specific shortcuts like potty humor, Tom McCarthy was able to take advantage of this story by balancing the imagination for the kids with the real-life drama for the parents. While the final result didn’t provide anything special to its usual formula, it’s still a heartwarming and enjoyable film that celebrates not just the power of adapting from our mistakes, but also the fact that being different is normal. Newcomer Winslow Fegley did a pretty good job in his role as the title character, who’s described as a quirky, deadpan child whose personal goals for his detective agency overshadow his issues with the real world. His personality can be a bit alienating for some people, but to me, he has that type of charm that reminded me of my own sense of imagination and weirdness. In other words, he’s both unusual and charming. I also thought that Craig Robinson delivered a very respectable performance as Mr. Jenkins, Timmy’s school counselor. Lovibond and Shawn were good as well as Timmy’s mother and Timmy’s teacher, Frederick Crocus, respectively. Another element I appreciated was the film’s humor. As I mentioned before, it didn’t depend on low-class humor such as poop jokes and pop culture references to make the young viewers laugh. Instead, the film consists of visual jokes that almost resemble the “Diary of the Wimpy Kid” films (without the cartoon drawings) and, in some cases, the films by Wes Anderson. It was nicely written, and more importantly, it was funny. Not hilariously funny, but funny nonetheless. Oh, and the polar bear was cute, by the way. I absolutely had no issues with the bear. As for its flaws, the film’s storytelling did falter a lot when it attempted to deliver the emotion to its themes and the pacing can be somehow troubling for children who want fast-paced excitement.
Overall, it doesn’t quite live up to McCarthy’s other works, but “Timmy Failure” has enough heart and humor to satisfy those with a thirst for imagination and drama. Despite its flawed plot and some uneven pacing, this is another win for Disney+ thanks to some likable performances, McCarthy’s direction, its enjoyable humor, and its respectable messages. It’s nice to see that Disney is still making films like this even though we’re still stuck with their live-action remakes of their animated classics. Here’s hoping that we see more of them in the future, especially the ones that are made for the streaming service. If you have Disney+, this is another original film that’s worth checking out.
“Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)” stars Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco, Ali Wong, and Ewan McGregor. Released on February 7, 2020, the film has Harley Quinn protecting a young girl from a ruthless crime lord.
The film is directed by Cathy Yan, who also directed “Dead Pigs”, and it is based on the DC Comics team of the same name created by Jordan B. Gorfinkel and Chuck Dixon. It is also the eighth film in the DC Extended Universe. What better way to kick off a new year of superhero movies than spending some quality time with the baddest clown chick in town? The world of DC cinema is returning to its villainous roots once again because that plan worked out quite well last year when it comes to box office. We’ve explored the depressing and disturbing story of the clown prince of crime. Now it’s time to put the spotlight on his special sweetheart, or in this case, his former special sweetheart. Harley Quinn made her first big screen appearance back in 2016 with the release of David Ayer’s “Suicide Squad”. While the film suffered from reviews that were as revolting as the ones for “Batman v Superman”, Margot Robbie’s magnetic portrayal as the psychotic villainess did receive some praise from plenty of people, including me, and yes, I do think Robbie’s version of Quinn is very sexy, thank you for asking. “Suicide Squad” was one of the films that introduced me to Margot Robbie, who’s proven to be a remarkable actress in my eyes, whether it’s by playing Harley Quinn or starring in some respectable films that earned her several award nominations. Seeing her back in the role that started her path is obviously my main reason why I was excited to see this film. Well, that and the fact that it has a group of ladies kicking some villain butt. Now that’s “girl power”. With that in mind, let’s head on back to the criminal underworld and see if this latest installment can keep this superhero franchise’s winning streak going.
Taking place after the events of “Suicide Squad”, the story centers on Harley Quinn (Robbie), a former psychiatrist turned criminal who winds up becoming a solo vigilante after the Joker ends his relationship with her. To be honest, it was bound to happen sooner or later. She then gets herself into hotter water when she encounters Roman Sionis, aka Black Mask (McGregor), a crime lord who masquerades as a nightclub owner. Sionis is also hunting a girl named Cassandra Cain (Basco) because she stole a priceless diamond from him, forcing Quinn to join forces with the likes of Helena Bertinelli (Winstead), Dinah Lance (Smollett-Bell), and police detective Renee Montoya (Perez) in order to protect Cain and defeat the psychotic madman. One noticeable detail that made “Birds of Prey” stand out from the other DCEU installments was the rating. This is the first film in the DC Extended Universe, as well as the second film from DC Films, to receive an R rating, which means there’s plenty of brutal violence and harsher language to go around in “Birds of Prey” compared to the teen-rated goodness from the other DCEU installments like “Wonder Woman” and “Aquaman”. In other words, this is another superhero movie that’s only made for mature audiences. No kids allowed. While it’s nice to see that the DCEU is stepping out of its comfort zone unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we should not forget that an installment with a mature rating doesn’t automatically make it as good as the other installments with a PG- 13 rating, such is the case with last year’s “Hellboy” reboot and the 2020 version of “The Grudge” last month. As always, it is all about the quality of the film and how tolerable that quality is to its target audience, and by “tolerable”, I mean fun. As a respectable fan of DC, I’m happy to say that this is another solid victory for the cinematic franchise. From a critical perspective, however, the film is far from the best installment in the DCEU (the crown still belongs to “Shazam!”, in my opinion), but thanks to its unique style and an enjoyable cast of characters, “Birds of Prey” shows that it’s good to be bad. The visual style for the film is best described as DC’s answer to Marvel’s “Deadpool”. You got the visual gags, the adult humor, and a charismatic narration from Harley Quinn herself. Everything it needed to match the psychotic persona of the title character is right on the screen, and for the most part, they were hilariously attractive. Sadly, it didn’t come close to challenging “Deadpool” for the anti-superhero comedy crown. While I did have a good time with the film’s insane vision, I still think that “Deadpool” handled this type of style better, but that’s just me. I really appreciated the film for being its own thing while having itself set in the same universe as “Suicide Squad” when it comes to the story. The film does feature another superhero team-up scenario that introduces more characters from the DC Comics lore, such as Huntress and Black Canary, but the main focus of the story is Harley Quinn, who attempts to be more than just an assistant. Like the past DCEU installments, the story in “Birds of Prey” wasn’t able to match the level of storytelling from certain installments from the Marvel Cinematic Universe like "The Avengers", but it made up for it by delivering a solidly entertaining, yet uneven, plot that honors the title character’s twisted personality while adding a bit of sympathy into her in the process. Margot Robbie was once again fantastic in her role as Harley Quinn. Similar to Ryan Reynolds with Deadpool, Robbie’s commitment to Harley was undeniably noticeable. She owns the role like it was a part of her. The attitude, the sexy charm, her sick sense of humor. She nailed every one of those traits. If you need a reason why I still think Robbie’s Harley Quinn is the best Harley Quinn, this film has you covered. Ewan McGregor was also a delight to watch as Sionis, an amusing antagonist who doesn’t mess around with others. I can immediately tell that McGregor was having a blast playing this type of character just by his over-the-top performance alone. At first, I thought he was an odd choice to play someone like Sionis, but after seeing him onscreen, I’m happy to say that he was able to prove me wrong. As for the rest of the cast like Winstead as Helena and Perez as Montoya, they were good enough to share the spotlight with Quinn. In addition to its flawed storytelling, the other thing that kept it from being perfect was that some of the film’s violence was a bit tame despite its R rating. Don’t get me wrong, I thought the action in “Birds of Prey” was delightful and nicely shot. It’s just the fact that aside from the filthy language, the film didn’t have enough “shock value” in its violence to earn its adult rating. I guess that’s what happens when I start comparing it to “Deadpool”.
Overall, “Birds of Prey” kicks off the new decade of superhero cinema with a fantabulous piece of entertainment that combines eye candy with mayhem. The story and the violence were far from memorable, but the film’s unique perspective and its sense of fun were enough to offer a brand new start for the clown princess of anarchy in terms of film. It’s not the best film I’ve seen from the DC Extended Universe, but I had a good time watching it regardless. If you’re a fan of Robbie’s take on Harley Quinn from “Suicide Squad”, this film will make you like her even more. It also works well as a “Ladies Night” movie, in case you’re wondering.
“Gretel & Hansel” stars Sophia Lillis, Sam Leakey, Charles Babalola, and Alice Krige. Released on January 31, 2020, the film has two children encountering a terrifying witch.
The film is directed by Oz Perkins, who also directed “The Blackcoat’s Daughter” and “I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House”. It is based on the German folklore tale “Hansel and Gretel” by The Brothers Grimm. Remember when fairy tales like “Cinderella” and “Rapunzel” wound up being cute and family-friendly thanks to the magic of Disney? Chances are you do, but I bet some of you didn’t remember that those tales have a dark side thanks to The Brothers Grimm. For those who needed a reminder, “Hansel and Gretel” is a fairy tale that was written by Wilhelm Grimm and Jacob Grimm in 1812, and it tells the story of two siblings who discover a house that’s made out of sweets and an evil witch who plots to eat them for dinner. Sounds like a great story to tell to the kids, am I right? The story has been adapted numerous times into several types of media like film and television, with the examples being the 2013 film “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” and the Bugs Bunny cartoon “Bewitched Bunny”. This latest version of the Brothers Grimm tale looks to be a bit more accurate to the source material in terms of its tone, but is it enough to make it more watchable compared to the last couple of horror films I witnessed? Let’s head on into the woods and find out.
The story follows the same narrative as the source material, in which a girl named Gretel (Lillis) and her younger brother Hansel (Leakey) journey through the woods to search for food and work. What they find instead is a witch (Krige) who has bigger plans for the children. One notable difference this adaptation made is that it places more focus on Gretel and her coming-of-age quest during their creepy experience, which would explain the decision to switch the names around in the title. Another difference is that they made Gretel a bit older than Hansel unlike the other adaptations, which had them in the same age as one another, so that her character can have that type of responsibility on her shoulders. The film mimics the cinematic style of the other “arthouse” horror films like Robert Eggers’ “The Witch” in terms of the cinematography, the production design, and the atmosphere. These qualities, along with some decent performances from the cast, work well in providing an eerie trip to the dark side of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale. However, they’re the only things that managed to carry the film all the way to the end. As a film that’s made to provide atmospheric frights and creepy imagery, “Gretel & Hansel” is visually compelling. As a regular horror film, it can come off as a depressing and tedious bore for those who are into films that rely on shocking jump scares every five minutes. Once again, this is the same problem that has prevented these types of films from impressing everyone in the horror group. There are people during this generation that are so used to cheap jump scares and cliches in recent horror films that they often forget about the important thing that makes a scary film…well, scary, which is the combination of atmospheric horror, psychological elements, and real-life situations. “Gretel & Hansel” didn’t feel that much like a “psychological horror” film like “The Lighthouse”. It’s more along the lines of a bizarre and uneasy fairy-tale-like dream that came to life before your very eyes. It’s a disturbing and fascinating experience to witness, but compared to the other atmospheric and haunting films from the past, its impact wasn’t exactly on par with what I was expecting. Part of that is due to the film’s screenplay and its scares. I appreciate the fact that it combined the horror elements with a coming-of-age story centering on Gretel, who was nicely portrayed by “It” star Sophia Lillis. However, the script didn’t quite have enough food on its plate to satisfy my hunger. As for the scares in general, there were plenty of effective scenes that were pretty discomfiting, but they weren’t enough to affect my nerves in a terrifying way. Another flaw that could give certain people a hard time was its pacing. The film is at least 87 minutes long, but with the pacing being as slow as a slug, it can feel like it lasted more than an hour and a half. I actually didn’t mind the pacing because I was paying attention to the technical aspects and Oz Perkins’ style. For those who aren’t fond with slow-moving horror films that lacked jump scares, that’s another story.
Overall, “Gretel & Hansel” proved itself to be a tolerable creep-fest unlike the last few horror films that were released in January, but it somehow lacked a special feeling that made the other atmospheric horror films successful to me. For atmospheric horror fans, it’s a respectable adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale that relies on the cast and the technical aspects to create an undeniable sense of dread and uncomfortableness. For people who prefer regular horror films with constant jump scares and CGI monsters, it’s a mild slow-burning piece of horror filmmaking that will test the audience’s patience due to its slow pacing and the lack of shocking scares. It will strongly depend on what you want out of a horror film like this. It’s visually appealing, but to me, there’s nothing special beyond that.