Gretel & Hansel

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Gretel & Hansel Movie Poster Image
Women take power in arty, violent fairy tale adaptation.
  • PG-13
  • 2020
  • 87 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 29 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

It's possible to be overly suspicious and practical; it's not necessarily true that "nothing is given unless something is taken away." Once you find your own inner strength, you're more able to take action.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While movie deals with strong women characters, they're not necessarily positive ones. One is certainly evil (she eats children), and young character must choose between darkness and light -- and it's uncertain which path she'll choose. Gretel starts out being suspicious and practical to a fault; she's defensive, protective. But as story goes on, she finds her inner strength, is able to take action.


Some scary, shocking moments. Creepy nightmare scenes. A zombie-like monster attacks the kids; Gretel knocks its eye out with a rock, and it's shot in the head. A bucket of guts and body parts is dumped on a table, with a severed baby's arm tossed on top. A character is burning/on fire, screaming in pain. Blood seeps through sheets during a nightmare. A character inserts a red-hot poker into his mouth with the intention of killing himself (nothing is shown). A horse keels over and dies. Black, blood-like goop shown in several scenes.


A man asks a teen girl whether her "maidenhood" is "intact" (i.e., whether she's a virgin). She gets her period in one scene, wakes up looking uncomfortable, is then shown washing her clothes.


"Hell" said twice.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Two hungry kids eat mushrooms from the forest floor and have a brief, fairly mild "psychedelic" trip.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Gretel & Hansel is a horror movie based on the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale, but it's not for young kids. Expect plenty of scary moments and nightmare scenes. A zombie-like monster attacks, its eye is knocked out with a rock, and it's shot in the head. A witch who's being burned screams in agony. A bucket of guts and body parts is dumped on a table, and some blood is shown seeping through a sheet. Other black, goopy, blood-like stuff is shown. A character puts a red-hot poker into his mouth, and a horse keels over and dies. A man asks a teen girl about her virginity (he inquires whether her "maidenhood" is "intact"), and she gets her period. Language is quite mild, with just a couple of uses of "hell." Hungry children eat mushrooms in the forest and experience a brief, mild drug trip. Casual horror fans may find this one a bit too arty and not scary enough, but for bolder viewers, it will hit the spot. Sophia Lillis and Sam Leakey star.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySuperMomma6969 February 2, 2020

Good Flick

Families, this is NOT as bad as people shape it up to be...
The violence is very limited, as it DID earn a PG-13 rating. A few scary scenes NOT for yo... Continue reading
Adult Written byMomK48 January 31, 2020

Definitely not PG-13

Umm I was freaked out before the show even began. R rated scary trailers I wasn’t expecting... we ended up walking out shortly after it started, too creepy, ve... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bySamN1230 January 31, 2020

Has more of an eerie feel more than in-your-face scary, but still very good!

Who Needs To See This:

As somebody who doesn’t focus on every mediocre aspect of the movie, I really enjoyed this movie. Of course, if you always notice everyt... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byellajojo February 1, 2020

Creepy and weird

It was the weirdest movie I have ever watched. I feel like the scary parts were all in the beginning, and some parts were very disturbing. Satanic symbols were... Continue reading

What's the story?

In GRETEL & HANSEL, it is a time of famine and hardship. A widow, at her wits' end, throws her children out of the house to fend for themselves. Older sister Gretel (Sophia Lillis) takes charge of her younger brother, Hansel (Samuel Leakey), but it's not long before they get hungry. A hunter (Charles Babalola) helps them along, and soon they find a house with an inviting feast laid out on the table. An old woman (Alice Krige) invites the children in and allows them to stay, for a little while, in exchange for doing some chores. Gretel fears that something is wrong, but then the old woman starts teaching her about how to unleash her inner, hidden strengths. Everything seems to be going fine ... until Hansel disappears.

Is it any good?

This strange, austere, artful, violent retelling of the old fairy tale is one of those movies that's more moody than scary. It won't be to every taste, but it's weirdly poetic and mesmerizing. With Gretel & Hansel and two previous chillers (The Blackcoat's Daughter, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House), director Osgood "Oz" Perkins -- the son of Psycho star Anthony Perkins -- has established himself as a confident, patient creator of chills who takes risks and is decidedly out of the mainstream. His focus on framing, textures, shapes, silences, and music -- rather than jump scares, shocks, or screaming -- makes his films a little harder to sell.

His Gretel & Hansel, with Gretel now coming first in the title, is also a story about women. Triangles permeate the film, suggesting the strength of both the witch and Gretel, and Perkins plays around with other recurring themes and symbols, too. The overall tone can feel a bit academic and perhaps a bit chilly, but the casting saves the day. Lillis, who was so delightful and spunky in the two It films, warms up her scenes with her character's younger brother, and Krige (the Borg Queen in Star Trek: First Contact) has a slithery quality that makes her witch somehow hypnotic. The throwback electronic music score by French composer Rob also helps create an unsettling, otherworldly quality. But overall, this is a movie about a young woman moving from a defensive position in the world to a more powerful offensive one.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Gretel & Hansel's violence. How much is shown and not shown? How did it make you feel? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • Is the movie scary? What's the appeal of horror movies?

  • How does this movie compare to the fairy tale? Why do we tell fairy tales, and why are they passed on from generation to generation?

  • Gretel says, "nothing is given without something being taken away." Do you think that's true? Why or why not?

  • Do you think the movie has strong female characters? In what ways are their strengths shown? Do you consider them role models?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

Themes & Topics

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