Starring Cheon Jeong-Myeong. In Korean with English subtitles. Rated 14A. Opens Friday, April 24, at the Cinemark Tinseltown
The Freudian fairy-tale fright flick was given final form by Neil Jordan in 1984’s The Company of Wolves. Now, in Hansel & Gretel, second-time director Yim Pil-Sung manages to elevate the subgenre to brilliant effect.
Watch the trailer for Hansel & Gretel.
Not to put too fine a point on it, this is one of the best horror movies ever made. As if that weren’t impressive enough, Hansel & Gretel is also visually beautiful and touching as hell. And, at the risk of gilding an already overladen lily, its social commentary is chillingly relevant to every society where children are endangered by adults.
Lee Eun-Soo (played by Cheon Jeong-Myeong), the hero of the piece, crashes his car in an isolated forest while talking to his upset pregnant girlfriend on his cellphone and speeding to his ailing mother. After he regains consciousness, the last thing he expects is to be led through the woods by a 12-year-old girl who looks like a refugee from a religious pre-Raphaelite painting. Soon, this mismatched pair arrive at the modern equivalent of a “gingerbread house”. The surprisingly luxurious lair of a smiling family of five, the “House of Happy Children” is cut off from the world in more ways than one, as Lee soon discovers when all his attempts to get back to the highway lead to nothing but mounting frustration.
What is this place, anyway? And, even more importantly, who are these people?
Finding out is all the fun, so I’m going to pull the curtain down on the plot right now. If you decide to lift it yourself, however, I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.