Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft is an American movie directed by David DeCoteau and released straight to DVD in January 2013.
You probably won’t be surprised to learn the central characters are called Hansel and Gretel. The title also makes it pretty clear the movie has an occult theme.
Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft was released a few days before the similar-sounding movie (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters) made its big-screen premiere. The two movies share no ties and are not related in any way.
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 (the movie I’m reviewing here) 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 the DVD artwork for Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft is very misleading. It’s actually more representative of Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters than the movie on the disc viewers will find 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. I’m willing to bet a lot of people will buy the DVD in error. In fact, that’s what happened to me.
I wanted Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters but I ended up with this high-school-based movie instead. Fortunately, 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. In the movie, the twins’ parents were witch hunters but the twins are as unaware of this- Nor do they know their real names. Their parents were killed just after the twins were born. The two 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. Viewers quickly learn 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 gets him expelled, the twins’ father manages to secure him a place at an elite school. He also arranges a place for Ella, who wants to accompany Jonah and is determined to keep him out of trouble. It’s a case of new school; same, old story though. Within hours of his arrival, Jonah is getting busy with his fists yet 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 is 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 that whenever you see him 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.
Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft is a slow-moving and predictable movie, but it becomes reasonably enjoyable after a while and you feel obliged to stick with it just to see how it all pans out. The special effects are limited but adequate, and the cast members should be admired for trying so hard to make such a poor storyline work.
Regardless of its problems, younger viewers may love this movie. Older viewers who require something that won’t tax the imagination or raise their blood pressure may also find the movie strangely watchable. However, if you are looking for a slightly more serious horror movie or a dark fantasy adventure, you’d would be better off watching Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters instead.
Runtime: 83 mins
Certificate: 12 (UK), PG:13 (USA)
Hansel and Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft Cast
Courtney B. Turk