A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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
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 ...
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?
- In theaters: January 31, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: April 7, 2020
- Cast: Sophia Lillis, Alice Krige, Samuel Leakey
- Director: Oz Perkins
- Studio: United Artists Releasing
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters
- Run time: 87 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: disturbing images/thematic content, and brief drug material
- Last updated: July 22, 2021
Our editors recommend
For kids who love scares
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch