Friday, August 16, 2013

Film Review: Hansel and Gretel (2007)

Hansel and Gretel (Review)
South Korea/2007
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...it's as magical as it is terrifying." 

After a car accident, Eun-soo (Chun Jung-myungh) awakens at night deep in a forest. A young girl, Young-hee (Shim Eun-kyung), approaches and offers shelter at her home, the "House of Happy Children". But everything is not what it seems in this home...

Hansel and Gretel is a magical yet terrifying film. Young-hee's older brother, Man-bok, and younger sister, Jung-soon, also accompany the home with an eerie presence. The story continues to follow Eun-soo as he tries to find a way out of the forest; his attempts are useless as he always ends up back at the home. As a new couple arrives and strange things occur at the home, Eun-soo eventually realizes he's being trapped with the children. The story ends with a bittersweet climax - an ending that can really make you break down.

The story blends elements of fantasy and horror to create a unique and creative experience; with these elements efficiently used, Hansel and Gretel plays like a terrifying fairytale. Throughout his stay, Eun-soo will witness the impossible; scenes such as the china doll transformation, the endless attic, and the human oak tree emit an eerie vibe that contribute to the fairytale atmosphere. There are nightmarish visuals, suspense, jump-scares, and some disturbing themes that make for a chilling tale. The story is wonderfully balanced, with every scene consistently moving forward with pure entertainment.

Chun Jung-myungh is fantastic as the lead; he really plays his character well and demonstrates a wide range of emotions. Shim Eun-kyung is the charasmaric lead for the child cast, and she does a wonderful job, as well. In fact, the children in this film are spectacular. The music matches the fairytale vibe and also uses elements of horror to create a spine-tingling soundtrack. The cinematography is superb, the film is shot beautifully; the fantastic lighting, the vibrant and hypnotizing colors... it's beautiful. The set design is also beautiful - I often wanted to pause the film just to soak in the amazing setting and costume design, there's so much to see!

I streamed this film on Netflix in October of 2012, and it suffers from a choppy frame-rate which, in turn, causes an uncomfortable viewing experience. The film itself does not suffer from this problem. I purchased the Blu-ray and it plays flawlessly. I strongly recommend the Blu-ray over the stream, especially since the 1080p Blu-ray further highlights the mesmerizing soundtrack and beautiful cinematography; if you watched the stream and hated the slow frame-rate issue, but saw the promise in everything else, I strongly recommend purchasing the film.

Overall, Hansel and Gretel is a mesmerizing fairytale - it's as magical as it is terrifying. The amazing story, the fantastic performances, the superb soundtrack, and the stunning cinematography make Hansel and Gretel a unique masterpiece among many from South Korea.

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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