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Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters – 7

Director – Tommy Wirkola

Cast – Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Pihla Viitala, Derek Mears, Robin Atkin Downes, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Joanna Kulig, Thomas Mann, Peter Stormare, Rainer Bock

Release Year – 2013

Reviewed by John of the Dead

After viewing its initial trailer during the fall of 2012 this easily became one of the first 2013 horror films that I just had to see. The trailer made the film look fun and gory, and it coming written and directed by Dead Snow creator Tommy Wirkola indicated to me that it would be heavy in action-packed sequences as well…and it was all of the above. In this modern day version of the classic fairy tale Hansel and Gretel are bounty hunters who travel town to town eradicating witches. Despite the occasional scratch the two do pretty well in ridding the countryside of the witches that plague good people, but they meet their match when they take a job to protect a town whose children are being picked off one by one by a coven. As the fabled Blood Moon approaches where the sacrifice of the town’s children will give the witches invincible powers, the siblings encounter evil unlike any they have ever seen – one that holds a deep secret regarding their past.

If you have seen any type of preview for this film I am sure you gathered as much as I did, that this is an action/gore driven film and everything else takes a backseat. That was mostly true but I did enjoy everything else the flick had to offer. It begins much like the old tale does, with Hansel and Gretel finding themselves captured by an evil witch after entering her home made entirely of candy, and after burning her alive they “spark” (teehee) a passion for killing witches. They make a name for themselves across the country, hated by those they kill and loved by those who admire their work, and they are quickly welcomed at their new gig despite the hatred felt by the town’s sheriff (portrayed by Peter Stormare). The premise behind the horror the town is facing is interesting, where the coven of witches must carefully snatch the right children (explained in the film) in order to complete a sacrificial ritual during a rare blood moon – a ritual that will grant them immortality. The siblings’ quest to stop the witches before they can exact the sacrifice pits them against a heinous foe whose powers they are unmatched for, which forces them to get creative if they wish to save the town and its children. Of course, there is the element of what the witch has to do with their past, but I will leave that up to the film to explain to you. Wirkola writes in plenty of action and plenty of kills along the way, including kills of characters I did not expect to die, and they died in heart-breaking fashion. I enjoyed this as it added to the emotion that I did not expect from an action packed and gory experience. The horror is quite subtle, with very few scares and the horror mostly coming from the gory kills delivered by the witches and by the siblings as they brutally kill the witches in the only ways possible…fire or dismemberment.

The direction from Wirkola was pretty swell and he kept things fun for the viewer. The sets and locations used were fantastic and helped in capturing the viewer’s attention, and complimented with positive horror it was hard to look away. Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton were fantastic in their roles, and as usual Famke Janssen did well in playing an antagonistic character. In the end this is a simple film that boils down to the horror deciding if it is a winner or not, and I am glad to say that Wirkola provided more horror than I expected. There is plenty of action to go around and along with this action comes awesome and gory kills that left me laughing out loud at times due to my enjoyment of the insanity on screen. In addition to this he also employed live action gore wherever possible and it definitely made up for the occasional CGI needed for the more impossible scenes to film with practical effects. I really thought the look of the witches could have been much better, and their mannerisms and subsequent execution by Wirkola was my only gripe with the film, but it was nowhere near enough of a fault to keep me from enjoying this piece.

Overall, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a fun piece that allows you to turn off your brain for a while and enjoy plenty of action and gore. This is not a brainless piece by any means, but it is simple and straight to the point – just the way I like them.

Rating: 7/10

…Additional Stills…

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