Orion Pictures' Gretel and Hansel, a retelling of classic fairy tale Hansel and Gretel starring Sophia Lillis and Sammy Leakey as the titular pair, has begun filming in Dublin, the studio announced. The original story about a brother and sister kidnapped by a child-eating witch has origins going far back in time, but its most famous version was of course published by the Brothers Grimm in 1812.
An opera version of Hansel and Gretel debuted in 1893, and later the characters arrived on film in Walt Disney's 1932 short Babes in the Woods. Tim Burton tackled the story for a later Disney-produced live-action short movie in 1983, starring an all-Asian cast, but the film aired only once on The Disney Channel. Recent adaptations of the story have emphasized its twisted horror elements, as in the 2007 Korean version, and of course the 2013 action movie Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton.
Hansel and Gretel is once again set to get a new adaptation that skews toward horror, thanks to Orion Pictures. IT breakout Sophia Lillis heads up the cast of Gretel and Hansel as Gretel herself, with newcomer Sammy Leakey as her brother Hansel. The studio has announced that production on the film has commenced in Dublin, with Osgood Perkins (The Blackcoat's Daughter) in the director's chair, working from a script he wrote with Rob Hayes. The studio has also released a brief synopsis of the story:
A long time ago in a distant fairytale countryside, a young girl leads her little brother into a dark wood in desperate search of food and work, only to stumble upon a nexus of terrifying evil.
The movie also stars Charles Babalola (Black Mirror) as The Hunter, and Alice Krige (Star Trek: First Contact) and Jessica De Gouw (Arrow) as the cannibalistic witches who wish to make a meal of our youthful heroes. The headliner though is Lillis, who is fresh off her memorable turn as Beverly in last year's horror blockbuster IT. Lillis will once again play the teen version of Bev in next year's IT: Chapter Two, with Jessica Chastain portraying the adult iteration of the character. Lillis also appeared in this year's acclaimed HBO series Sharp Objects, playing the teenage version of Amy Adams' troubled journalist Camille. Indeed, after facing down memorable bad-mom Adora in Sharp Objects, Lillis finds herself battling evil child-devouring women in Gretel and Hansel.
It will be interesting to see what director Perkins, who has built a name for himself as a horror director, does with this new take on Hansel and Gretel. 2013's Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters went for a more comedic tone, but did not make much of an impression. Of course, this whole recent trend of reimagining classic fairy tales with more intense action elements was kicked off by 2012's Snow White and the Huntsman, which went on to gross $396 million at the box office.
Gretel and Hansel does not yet have a release date.
Source: Orion Pictures