Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is a frustrating movie to watch, because it is neither scary or the least bit frightening horror movie nor an effective parody of the genre. Instead it sits inelegantly on the fence, waiting for the rain of tomatoes to pour, much like 2005’s The Brothers Grimm.
Looking thoroughly disinterested in a clumsy leather costume, Jeremy Renner undoes the star power he gained with his bit role in The Avengers and the lead role in The Bourne Legacy as a terribly miscast one half of a brother sister killing machine. Complimenting him is the equally bland and uncharismatic Gemma Arterton who seems relieved to have bagged a Hollywood movie role. The story takes place years after Hansel and Gretel outsmarted the witch in the gingerbread house – the two are now full on witch hunters, armed to the teeth with revolvers, crossbows and cringe inducing one liners. The problem here is the same one that dogged such crossover graphic novel-eque films like Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter - by taking itself too seriously, it just fails to entertain on any level.
Whether it is director Tommy Wirloka’s fault is moot – he made the hilarious Norwegian zombie comedy horror Dead Snow a few years ago and it could very well be possible that studio execs killed this film and ultimately decided to dump it in the January Hollywood garbage bin. The production design is a poorer rendition of the Red Riding Hood movie which itself resembled a stage of a high school play. The CGI witches are moderately fun, Famke Janssen is rather great as the evilest one of them all – she doesn’t need much makeup to seduce or scare the living daylights out of anyone. The action scenes are grotesque, to say the least, with dozens of liters of blood being splashed around the screen in painfully tacky 3D. When an 18th century machine gun fails to ignite any interest in a movie about flying witches, one has a rather serious problem at hand. Add to the overall ineptitude the lack of a coherent or interesting story and one wishes the film had been named Hansel and Gretel: Script Hunters.
(First published in MiD Day)