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Hansel & Gretel(2012)
Two teen siblings are enslaved by a psychotic recluse within her gruesome house of horror in the woods..
For more about Hansel & Gretel and the Hansel & Gretel Blu-ray release, see Hansel & Gretel Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 21, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Dee Wallace, Brent Lydic, Stephanie Greco
Director: Anthony C. Ferrante
» See full cast & crew
Hansel & Gretel Blu-ray Review
One of The Asylum's best efforts to date -- take that for what it's worth.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 21, 2013
Another high profile release from a big studio is right around the corner -- this time it's Paramount's Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters -- which means two things. One, Hollywood's really out of ideas, and two, The Asylum's clockwork-like cash-in has been released to unsuspecting consumers, B-movie fans, and cinema rubbish connoisseurs. But this trick is actually something of a treat. Make no mistake about it, The Asylum's Hansel & Gretel isn't a great movie or anything, but it's actually a serviceable little venture that tells the tale of a few teenagers imprisoned, fattened, and feasted upon by some really nasty people. It's gory and really kind of ridiculous, but it's surprisingly well-acted and even shows a little bit of skill behind the camera, too. It's probably not a turning point for The Asylum -- they just can't seem to let go of lousy special effects, awful acting, and terrible scriptwriting -- but it does at least seem to be a classic case of an exception to the rule.
Hansel (Brent Lydic) and Gretel (Stephanie Greco) are teenage siblings. He's an avid gamer, she works at a bakery with the kindly Liith (Dee Wallace). When Hansel and Gretel learn that their father is marrying a younger woman, Hansel loses his cool and storms off into the forest. Gretel gives chase but finds her brother caught in a snare that wounds his leg. They search out help and stumble upon an isolated house that, as luck would have it, is the simple abode owned by none other than Lilith. She tends to Hansel's wound and provides shelter for an exhausted Gretel. Gretel awakens the next morning to news that a neighbor has transported Hansel to the hospital. Lilith insists she stay and recoup her strength rather than make a mad dash to the hospital. Little does Gretel know that in fact she's being groomed to take over a particularly nasty family business while her brother and several other unfortunate victims are being held captive, fattened up on sweets, and placed on the family menu.
While Hansel & Gretel never reaches the sort of haunting, hellish atmosphere of other "dark dungeon" sorts of Horror pictures, it does manage to offer a basic but largely effective opening sequence in which a bloodied, chained girl escapes from a rather hellish holding cell. Certainly, set designing Horror seems, from the outside, a little simpler than other settings; low light, dark colors, worn and rusted surfaces or any sort of deteriorated objects, distant screams, and some classic scary music all will send a chill down the spine no matter which studio is making the movie, and that holds true here. It sets a fair tone for the film that carries it on through to its sinister conclusion. Hansel & Gretel doesn't always lure in its audience and figuratively have them for lunch, but it's sufficiently gory and suitably squeamishly fun to satisfy genre fans looking for something that might lack novelty but that does come together well enough for a simple good time at the (scary) movies.
Still, make no mistake that at best this Hansel & Gretel comes in at the lower end of the cinema spectrum. In other words, don't expect the polish, finesse, and bigger budget sets and special effects sure to be on display in Paramount's film. Nevertheless, this is currently the upper-end of the spectrum for Asylum titles, on par with something like Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies in terms of the quality level of script, acting, editing, and direction. Nevertheless, the film does slow down appreciably after a rather strong opening and on its way towards the final act. The middle stretch becomes bogged down with dumbed-down dialogue, particularly between the unfortunate souls held captive in the dungeon. It seems such scenes are stretched out not in the name of great plot development but instead the need for the movie to clock in at exactly ninety minutes, which seems the exact runtime every Asylum film aims to achieve (likely for television purposes). Nevertheless, there's enough grotesque goodness and general competency to keep viewers interested.
Ultimately, the best part of Hansel & Gretel may be found in the acting. There will be no Oscar nods for any of the cast -- nor will any even spring up in debate -- but the film does offer a collection of dependable performances shaped in part by a script that's a cut above the usual Asylum fare and that gives the actors something with which to work. Dee Wallace is surprisingly good as the kindly old lady with a secret to hide, a couple of sons to feed, and an heir to find. She manages to inject the character with just a slight creepiness coming through the veil of her outward politeness, almost like her Lilith is trying just a touch too hard to hide who she is. The lead teenagers are fine (it seems patently ridiculous to watch modern-day characters calling one another "Hansel" and "Gretel," but they make it work as well as can be expected) and actually perform their parts better than the vast majority of Asylum actors. They do their thing -- a lot of yelling, mainly -- well enough, and while they don't really explore their characters beyond what's scripted on the page, Brent Lydic and Stephanie Greco at least contribute reasonably acceptable performances and give the movie an air of seriousness even considering the rather ridiculous premise.
Hansel & Gretel Blu-ray, Video Quality
One area in which The Asylum has proven largely dependable is in the video transfer department, and Hansel & Gretel represents another strong Blu-ray outing for the famed "mockbuster" studio. The high definition image, sourced from an HD video shoot, yields exceptional clarity and fabulous details. The opening sequence provides a nice bit of hellish eye candy; worn down surfaces reveal some hardcore textures that help set the stage for the film's grisly attributes. The image is abundantly crisp and naturally sharp. Every corner yields precise details, whether up-front clothing and facial textures or simple background elements. The color palette is just as impressive. The picture handles bright candy-colored baked goods and welcoming sweet shop interiors as well as it does worn-down dungeons where colors are at a premium. The image does see a bit of blocking in its darkest corners, but blacks are usually dead-on and flesh tones accurate. Another job well done by The Asylum on the video front.
Hansel & Gretel Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Hansel & Gretel's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack is effective, generally. There's a slight unevenness and shallowness to a select few moments, but the vast majority of the track rates as "proficient" or better, favoring the latter. There's often a very good general sense of space, defined by various atmospherics in the dank dungeons and in woodland exteriors both. The front end carries the bulk of the load; the surround channels aren't extensively used, but a fair ambience is nevertheless evident throughout the film, when necessary outside of static and calm interior dialogue scenes. The surrounds do carry a good drifting element when Gretel first learns the truth about where she is and what's happened. Otherwise, this is a fairly straight-up simple track. A good jolt of bass rocks one of the film's final moments, and various screams and heavy slamming oven doors make up the bulk of the sonic excitement. Dialogue plays smoothly and clearly from the center channel. This isn't a grade-A listen, but it's a good presentation and a fine support for the film in question.
Hansel & Gretel Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Hansel & Gretel contains slightly more extras than are normally found on the typical Asylum Blu-ray release.
Hansel & Gretel Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Hansel & Gretel ascends beyond the usual Asylum garbage but won't find much favor with moviegoers looking for bigger budgets, superior filmmaking, and Oscar-caliber acting. What this is a good example of a cheap knockoff movie actually playing a bit better than most other cheap knockoff movies. It offers just the right balance between grotesque horror and subtle humor. Supported by a workable script, good acting for a movie of this sort, and competent direction, Hansel & Gretel makes for a decent little Horror time killer that should satisfy B-movie genre fans. The Asylum's Blu-ray features strong video and audio. A fair collection of extras are included. Worth a rent for the target audience.
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