Blu-ray Review: Hansel & Gretel / Cert: 15 / Director: Pil-Sung Yim / Screenplay: Pil-Sung Yim / Starring: Jeong-myeong Cheon, Young-nam Jang, Ji-hee Jin, Kyeong-ik Kim / Release Date: Out Now
A sad and fascinating fantasy story that takes elements from the Brothers Grimm fairy-tale and twists them to ask the question ‘what would happen if the children never got saved’? A continuous carousel like nightmare plays out in the seemingly idyllic setting of a pastel hued house in a deep forest. Tragic themes and the coping mechanisms of children faced with trauma are all interweaved to create a complicated, creatively brilliant masterpiece. Director Yim Phil-Sung’s vision is catapulted by the CGI that enhances rather than being relied upon. The elaborate set design from Seong-hie Ryu (The Host, Old Boy, Thirst) makes for unsettling eye candy.
Eun-soo (Chun Jeong-myeong) veers off the road whilst on the way to visit his sick mother, crashing into a dark, dark forest. Approached and saved by a young ghostly looking girl in a red cape, Young-Hee (Eun-kyung), he is taken to safety and cared for in a warm yet creepy family home full of happy children and anxious adults. Their house may not be made from gingerbread and cakes, but it is full of sweet and sickly treats. Young-Hee, her older brother Man-bok (Eun Won-jae) and sweet little sister Jung-soon (Jin Ji-hee) soon become fond of Eun-soo’s kind nature and refuse to let him leave.
Considering the dark themes this film exudes the pallet is full of exuberant colours used to convey childhood imagination. As Eun-soo is welcomed into the household he is presented with a table full of extravagant confectionary and cakes that make you feel sick to look at. As the camera pans round the house and introduces you to a ‘70s style dwelling where toys roam free and Christmas decorations adorn the walls it is clear that something is not quite right. Pinocchio toys are everywhere adding to the intrigue of where this fairy-tale is headed. Yim Phil-sung gives clues and sparks intrigue as to where the story is going. Are these children real and if so who shaped them into what they are today?
This group of children re-iterate the phrase “we are not bad children” but you are never sure whether they are awaiting a hero to save them or looking for their next victim. Never knowing if these children are monsters leaves you questioning their every move and it makes for profound viewing that gets darker and darker as it goes on.
Original, consistently unnerving and visually stunning, Yim Phil-sung approaches the horror fantasy playground with precision making this a necessary addition to your Blu-ray collection.
Special Features: Making of, Production Designer Interview, Sound Designer Interview, Actor Interviews