It was bad enough that we had to tolerate the stupendous display that was Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and sparkly vampires in Twilight, but now we have a film about two kids who get lost in the woods and grow up to be witch hunters. Why?
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters begins with two young children by the names of Hansel and Gretel, who are lured into a candy coated cottage by an evil witch. They manage to slay the witch and the film fast forwards through time to them as notorious witch hunting bounty hunters.
However, they didn't escape unscathed. Hansel (Jeremy Renner) develops some kind of sugar-crash disease which apparently affects him in combat and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) is being hunted down by an evil witch named Muriel (Famke Jannsen) who wants to tear out her heart.
The genre-busting tongue-in-cheek fairy tale that was The Princess Bride had the same elements — unconventional banter, disregard for historical accuracy and offbeat characters. But in the case of Hansel and Gretel the attempt to come across as camp and irreverent fails due to an uninspiring and humourless script. It’s hardly the satirical horror film it aspires to be.
One element that does work is the eerie look of the film. The dark old German-style cottages, stunning set design, and good-looking costumes (although they are inconsistent and at times awkwardly a modern-goth style). The make-up of the witches, in contrast, makes them look more like the Crypt Keeper from Tales from the Crypt or a member of death-metal band Cradle of Filth than any traditional portrayal of a witch.
Technology has come a long way since Roald Dahl's creepy special effects in The Witches, and those eight hours in the make-up chair really paid off in transforming Angelica Houston into the Grand High Witch.
Nevertheless, there's fun to be had here, especially for fans of Swedish metal and brainless comedy without the zombies. The '90s-inspired goth influences and bloody action scenes are well done. However, the forced "quirky dialogue" is so cringe worthy that every time the characters utter something like "stay cool" or "set her a-- on fire" our audience laughed nervously.
Such an underwhelming film makes you wonder what's next – Snow White: Vampire Slayer? Let's hope not, or we may have to get Buffy creator Joss Whedon to show these people how true horror satire is done.