A Passion For Horror
Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft
Directed by David DeCoteau
Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft is a straight to DVD movie that was released in January 2013, just a few days before the movie Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters made its big screen premiere. Although the two movies may sound very similar, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a faster moving movie, aimed at an older audience, and set in a fantasy world. Handsel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft is set on a nice, bright and airy-looking high school campus and the story plods along to a conclusion that will probably be obvious to most viewers long before the closing credits roll.
It is worth noting that the DVD artwork is very misleading and is more representative of Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters than the movie on the disc inside the case. Hansel and Gretel are shown clad in leather, standing in front of an eerie-looking castle, and armed to the teeth with swords and other weapons. The DVD cover is selling a dark fantasy adventure, but that's not what buyers will receive and it seems likely that many people may buy this DVD in error; I certainly did, but my copy only cost £3, so I can't regard the purchase as a major catastrophe, and the movie is not without a certain charm.
Hansel and Gretel are played by real life brother and sister Booboo and Fivel Stewart. The twins' parents were witch hunters, but the twins are as unaware of this as they are of their real names because, just after the twins were born, their parents were killed. The siblings were then adopted by a wealthy couple and have spent their life answering to the names Jonah and Ella.
A short scene at the start of the movie show shows Jonah getting into a fight at school and the viewer quickly learns that this is a common occurrence for the young man, who has a somewhat rebellious streak as well as issues with his adoptive parents. Ella is better adjusted. She fits in at school, makes friends easily, and is a Grade-A student. When Jonah's latest battle causes him to be expelled, the twins' father manages to secure him a place at an elite school. He also gets a place for Ella, who wants to accompany her brother and is determined to keep him out of trouble. It's a case of new school; same, old story though, because, within hours of his arrival, Jonah is busy with his fists again.
Jonah's fighting may be nothing new, but the twins soon discover a school problem they have never encountered before. An ancient coven, called The Circle, are abducting pupils and feeding their souls to the head witch, who then grants her followers unlimited power and fortune. The identity of the witch is not revealed until the end of the movie, but most viewers will probably be able to figure out who she is long before her cover is blown.
Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft is intended for a younger audience and it shows. No blood is shed and the only display of guts is when Jonah goes hand to hand with much bigger opponents. Even when Ella uses her magic witch-killing knife her victims just disappear in a flash of light, so even though this movie is a certificate 12 in the UK, it seems likely that many younger viewers could watch it with little risk of nightmares.
The school's headmaster, Mr Sebastian (Eric Roberts), is one of the most interesting characters in the movie and he appears to be an incredibly nice guy; so much so, in fact, that whenever he is shown peeking around corners when something strange happens, or he is spying on the twins, it always seems more amusing than sinister. The movie's producers probably intended these actions to throw suspicion on him, and make him appear an ideal candidate for being the head witch; if so they failed miserably.
& Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft is a slow moving
and predictable movie, but it becomes reasonably enjoyable after a
while and you feel obliged to to stick with it just to see how it all
pans out. Special effects are limited, but adequate, and the cast
members should be admired for trying so hard to make such a poor
storyline work. Younger viewers may love this movie though, regardless
of it problems. Older viewers who require something that won't tax the
imagination or raise their blood pressure may also find the movie
strangely watchable, but viewers who are looking for a serious horror
movie, or a dark fantasy adventure, would be better off looking
elsewhere and may want to consider Hansel
& Gretel: Witch Hunters instead.
Rating: 2 out of 5.
12 (UK), PG:13 (USA)