The DVD Autopsy: HANSEL & GRETEL GET BAKED
Next, a stoner-horror-comedy-thriller appears on the slab. Semblance to the classic fairy-tale is slight; the focus on any one theme even slighter. You’ll be correct to guess the film makers were burning more than the midnight oil
(Movies fail at the box office, and many more fail to get released into theaters. When a title that was DOA arrives on DVD it goes under the knife of the forensic video-examiner. Be forewarned, this piece is entirely a SPOILER.)
For reasons nobody can grasp, the release of HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS into theaters this past January inspired four other productions of declining quality following the siblings. For even fewer graspable explanations this title chooses to tie the duo together in a marijuana-laden comedy-tinged drama-esque horror romp, set in modern Southern California.
The cast here is populated with lower-rung “where’ve-I-seen-him?” types, and the story is not set in a sprawling forest locale but seems to take place all within a few blocks’ radius in suburbia. While not a horrible venture this does suffer from trying to bring disparate elements into a lone film; while possibly ambitious you end up with pieces from various puzzles which do not make for a coherent image. Let’s get the smoky carcass onto the gurney and see what is smoldering inside.
00:00:31 Septic Introduction
A bespectacled worker from Pasadena Gas & Electric approaches a home and is shocked at the amount of kilowatts that are being used. This intro cameo is all we will see of star Carey Elwes.
00:02:08 Invasive Pathos
The over-intrepid meter reader takes it upon himself to snoop around the home, spying bushes of cannabis growing in the basement. As he attempts to capture cell-phone pics he is violently dragged through a basement window.
00:03:39 Visual adrenal Infusion
The opening credits display the cast and crew names upon the labels of baggies, vials, and prescription bottles for medical marijuana. I wonder how many frantic calls to agents were made following that decision.
00:05:42 Blunt-Force Dialogue
In her bedroom Gretel (played by a fetching Molly Quinn) is drawing on a bong with her boyfriend, Ashton, who is raving about a new strain of weed called Black Forest. He tells her of its origins:
ASHTON: Some little old lady, from Pasadena, is growing it in her basement.
00:07:01 Depleted Character Concentration
Hansel arrives home, played by Michael Welch, known by Twi-hards as “Mike Newton”. His arrival partially explains the desperate proclamation on the box cover, touting how this film is delivered, “From the Producer of Twilight”.
00:09:50 Septic Introduction
Beset with hunger pangs Gretel starts to bake cookies while Ashton heads out to get more chronic. He arrives at the home of Agnes, the septuagenarian dealer, played by Lara Flynn-Boyle in aged prosthetics.
As I predicted in my January article about the numerous “H&G” titles, a munchies-addled Ashton cannot resist tearing into her gingerbread house displayed on a coffee table.
00:14:18 Plot Stimulant
After passing out on the sofa Ashton comes to later, strapped to a table as the old lady slathers him with Shea butter, with 11 herbs and spices. Old women marinating teens redefines the term “cougar”.
00:16:02 Iatrogenic Direction
Ashton tries to bargain for his life by offering to let the old woman lick his junk. Agnes suddenly shuts him up by stabbing him in the eye, pulling it out and then chewing on it. Then we cut instantly to a close-up of the gingerbread men Gretel is baking, placing M&Ms in them for eyes.
00:17:59 Weakened Impulse
Hansel’s character trait is walking around with a camera, taking pictures of mundane occurrences, for some reason. One time he snaps a frame and Gretel responds, ”You aren’t going to post that, are you?!”
It was a shot of her biting into a cookie.
00:18:21 Adverse Activity
After sawing off Ashton’s shin with a power saw we now see Agnes pulling out his roasted limb from her gas furnace on a pizza board. She calmly gnaws on his flesh while he whimpers on the table.
00:20:08 Continuity Failure
The next day Gretel looks for Ashton, dropping in on Manny, the local weed dealer. He tells Gretel Ashton called him last night asking where Agnes lives. Small detail – Ashton was already at her home that afternoon.
00:31:17 Ruptured Visual
After a largely pointless visit to Agnes Hansel & Gretel go to the apathetic police for help. Meanwhile, after sucking the life force from Ashton and getting younger we watch as Agnes is in her basement turning Ashton into ground chuck. Seeing the stoner’s crank in a grinder is exactly why we shouldn’t watch how sausage gets made.
00:35:56 Adverse Activity
Now we get a lengthy segment where the local supplier Carlos is upset to learn of the new strain of grass, and he confronts Manny to say he is taking over the old woman’s business on his turf. It seems we have completely abandoned any familiarity to the Grimms’ fairy tale at this point.
00:37:48 Depleted Character Concentration
As Manny delivers the message from Carlos Agnes decides to slit Manny’s throat. I guess her desire to use young people to stay young stops when it comes to business affairs.
00:43:01 Arrested Physics
Carlos and two thugs drop in on the now young Agnes and in the basement she opens a door to show her underground grow house. She explains it is a former bomb shelter – while in size it appears to be a former bomb factory.
00:44:59 Diluted Tableau
Agnes gets the drop on the cartel boys when her Doberman arrives – and their guns fail to work. Carlos gets hoisted by a magic hose (yes, I meant to write that) and then Agnes jams a spigot into his chest. She turns the handle and gallons of blood drain from the faucet.
00:45:45 Cranial Atrophy
One thug runs upstairs and finds he cannot break through the magically sealed front door. While gripped with fear a nearby cabinet begins shaking wildly -- so of course he walks over to open it. A zombified Manny leaps out and attacks the thug.
00:50:34 Depleted Character Concentration
Earlier we saw a brief scene with this guy named Norm from the Pasadena Gas & Electric offices. (He is portrayed by screen writer David Tillman.) For the second time we drop in on the utilities technician, now as he talks with a co-worker. For the second time his scene amounts to absolutely nothing. Also, zero explanation is given why his professional office has a wall filled with cat pictures.
00:52:46 Diluted Tableau
Molly teams up with Manny’s girlfriend Bianca to find the missing boyfriends, and they decide to confront the witch together. By now the only vaguest reference to the classic story is Gretel dressing in a wardrobe from a Bavarian outlet-mall Hot Topic.
00:59:56 Chronicle Seizure
After nearly an hour we finally get another reference to the fable. Gretel breaks into the basement of Agnes’ home and finds the cavernous growing area, which may rival the maze hedge from THE SHINING in sheer size.
Gretel marks her trail here not with bread crumbs, but with Skittles.
01:03:48 Invasive Pathos
Bianca flirts with Agnes to distract her from Gretel’s actions, and eventually she breaks the neck of the witch. When she rushes to meet Gretel downstairs there is an uncomfortable moment when they encounter the zombie-Manny, alive but stuffed in a garbage can.
01:05:19 Commercial Toxicity
The still alive Agnes manages to have her crop dispense smoke, and Bianca begins drifting. Here she serves the role of the crumb-eating birds, nabbing a candy marker and actually saying:
BIANCA: Ah, Skittle! Taste the rainbow!
01:07:31 Comedic Arrest
As the police sit in their cruiser a missing persons report comes up for Ashton. As one cop gets out his partner asks, where he is going?
Cut to a wide shot.
I swear, Hollywood is the last place where anyone thinks the police/donuts gag carries a vestige of humor any longer.
01:11:52 Plot Stimulant
As Gretel and Bianca are placed in a cage Hansel arrives and Agnes takes him in for tea. Finally his camera comes into play, as he snaps a pic of the young Agnes but the screen displays the crone-like image of the old woman. The camera always adds 10 decades
01:13:12 Visual adrenal Infusion
Carlos, now a zombie as well, attacks Hansel, but the brother uses first a fireplace poker to subdue, then an ash shovel to sever him at his jawline. That blood pool will be harsh on the hardwood floors.
01:18 :01 Collapsed Climax
Once Agnes knocks him out Hansel now appears strapped onto the gurney to get basted. Gretel escapes the cage and when Agnes climbs atop Hansel to suck out his life force Gretel pushes the gurney, causing the witch to land inside the oven. As she ignites the oven blasts out, the marijuana crop engulfs, and the home largely combusts. So after largely ignoring the original story we get most of the beats from the source material shoe-horned in during the final fifteen minutes.
01:18:43 Iatrogenic Direction
I have to offer up a WHAT THE HOLY HELL?!?!
Outside the house, as the rescue workers tend to the wounded Norm, the local Utilities worker, ambles around the crime scene. He looks the place over, checks in on victims, and then he approaches Hansel & Gretel. Why? Who freakin' knows?!
They have a brief exchange with the guy they never met, mentioning the woman he has no way of knowing a thing about. WHAT THE HOLY HELL?!?!
01:20:14 Genetic Sequel Mutation
Norm gets in his truck and Agnes, as a cat, is brought inside with him. There is a shaking of his utility vehicle and we assume the guy, who has served absolutely no purpose whatsoever, has been killed.
So now in a rear-view mirror we see that the witch, which the Grimm Brothers incinerated 200 years ago, lives on, in case there could be a follow-up to this randomness.
While not an altogether mess, and a well-shot film which at times had the semblance of coherence, this does suffer from a severe lack of focus. At times various plot lines -- the pot growing, the horror components, and the original fairy tale itself – are brought up only to be abandoned, like a brilliant idea you have at 3:00 in the morning.
It is almost as if the writer suffered from a focus problem. Now what do you suppose could have led to that happening?
: This article was submitted by a volunteer contributor who has agreed to our code of conduct
. ComicBookMovie.com is protected from liability under "safe harbor" provisions and will disable users who knowingly commit plagiarism, piracy, trademark or copyright infringement. For expeditious removal, contact us HERE