“Fargo” and “Prison Break” fave Peter Stormare was announced earlier as having joined the cast of Tommy Wirkola’s “Hansel & Gretel : Witch Hunters”. Knowing I’d have a little more to add by evening, I saved reporting that morsel of info for later..er, now. And so here it is, with this… Wanna know what goes down in the flick? Want to know more about Peter Stormare’s character? I’ve got a few details for you. Bread crumbs? No.
For those that don’t want to read any spoilers, but would like somewhat of a synopsis, “Hansel & Gretel : Witch Hunters” goes a bit like this : Hansel & Gretel hear there’s been quite a few witch sightings in – largely the forests of – their home town of Augsburg, so head back there to hunt and, if necessary, kill whatever they can spot.
Augsburg, it seems, burned at the stake many, many witches in it’s time – some of whom never confessed or were never proven to be anything other than local townspeople. Upon arrival, Hansel & Gretel catch the town sheriff trying to execute another potentially innocent woman.
With guide Jackson (who knows the woods better than anyone, naturally), our skilled hunters stalk the forests of Augsburg in search of kid-nabbing witches, led by the evil Muriel.
And here’s the spoiler section :
Again, must warn you though, this is SPOILER HEAVY (though I don’t reveal the ending or anything as such, there’s still some moments in here that some might simply rather be a surprise.
Grown-up Hansel & Gretel (Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton), still recovering from their ordeal as youngsters, are the veteran witch-hunters of the title when we meet them. Actually, they’re not just steadfast, long-time witch slayers, they’re famous ones.
The duo have lost a little of the passion and thrill for the job though, largely because killing witches has become sort of, well, easy for them. They are also growing increasingly conflicted about the job and the way they feel about ‘witches’ in general (in flashbacks we discover that Hansel & Gretel’s mother was actually dragged off and beaten to death by an angry mob who, assumingly, believed she was a witch – which, our heroes find out in the third act, she was).
Hansel is a cocky, boozehound that doesn’t much care what people think of him – which may explain his tendency to talk about his kills in rather graphic detail (He gets a kick out of using the words “brains”, “worms”, “oozing out” when telling locals of his exploits). But good at his job he most definitely is.
While Gretel experiences nightmares of her ordeal with the witch as a kid, Hansel is left with a more physical reminder : He has to give himself a ‘shot’ of ‘sugar water’ at different intervals (his watch timer lets him know) stemming from being forced (by the witch) to eat too much candy as a youngster. Yep, he’s diabetic.
Other characters in the story include Benjamin, a 15-year-old obsessed with the exploits of the titular duo; Sheriff Berringer (Peter Stormare), a mean-ass who has been burning at the stake anyone that might be a witch, Mina, a kindly witch who falls for Hansel (and vice versa); and the town Mayor, who stands behind his decision to hire the witch eradictators.
Hansel & Gretel are informed by the town’s mayor that there’s been quite a few witch sightings in – largely the forests of – their home town of Augsburg, so head back there to hunt and, if necessary, kill whatever they can spot.
Augsburg, it seems, burned at the stake many, many witches in it’s time – some of whom never confessed or were never proven to be anything other than local townspeople (see above : Hansel & Gretel’s mother).
The duo put their nightmares (well, Gretel’s having them) and fear aside as, with guide Jackson (who knows the woods better than anyone, naturally), they stalk the forests of Augsburg in search of kid-nabbing witches.
Augsburg has a witch problem (and a Sheriff problem). Many children have gone missing and every local woman is a suspect.
With the kindly Mayor stripped of his power by the mean Sheriff, the former hires Hansel & Gretel to clean the town up.
Hansel & Gretel arrive just in the nick of time; Sheriff Berringer, a mean, mustached bastard in his ‘30s is about to burn an innocent woman, Mina, at the stake. Gretel immediately declares the woman ‘clean’ – witches are ugly bitches and this lady is unblemished and beautiful – and demands her freedom.
Mina is set free. Right off the bat, she and Hansel take a liking to each other (The audience is aware, right off the bat, she’s a witch.. one that Hansel’s going to fall for. She proves she can be trusted in spades later on and that good witches do exist). She seems sweet. He seems charming.
Anyway, to the job at hand, it’s up to Hansel & Gretel to find the children and rid of the witches of Augsburg – and before the ‘Blood Moon’ in two days time, which is a night most “holy” to witches. The ringleader of the witches is the sexy but deadly Muriel and she’s planing to make some ‘sacrifices’ in 48 hours time.
Hansel & Gretel discover they’ve a young fan in bespectacled 15-year-old Benjamin Walsur. Benjamin’s been following the duo’s exploits for years, at one stage in our story even pulling out an all-encompassing scrapbook that features newspaper clippings of every witchhunt Hansel and Gretel have been involved in (Some of their past missions have included drowning a witch in a moat and slaughtering a coven who planned to open a gateway to hell under the court house). Benjamin, being a fan and all, naturally offers to assist Hansel & Gretel on their latest mission – after all, that’d be good practice for his future career as a witchhunter.
Though Hansel & Gretel refuse to take Benjamin along on their mission, the youngster ultimately gets roped into it anyway (When Hansel disappears – last seen fighting a witch on a broom – Gretel seeks shelter in Benjamin’s bedroom; the 15 year-old, as you’d imagine, loves having the hot chick holed up in his room). With his extensive knowledge and unforeseen skills, Benjamin becomes quite an asset (Think Shia’s character in “Constantine”).
We quickly learn how creative Hansel & Gretel are in their hunting– at one point Hansel buys some children’s clothing and a pumpkin, and walks through the forest pretending to be a lost child… knowing all too well a witch will approach (which she does, a toothless one). Very cool stuff. These scenes should be as amusing as they’ll be exhilarating.
Kids keep disappearing and Hansel & Gretel, of course, are blamed for ‘bringing this on the town’ by the locals (largely because they believe everything the outspoken and untrusting Berringer tells them). Again, the Mayor is quick to defend his contracted killers. Still, Berringer wants blood.
The children, we learn, are shackled and kept in the caves by Trolls who work with Muriel and her Witches. (Later, one of our heroes may or may not become a kidnapee).
There will be blood. There will be fights (and an awesome skuffle between Ms Arterton and Mr Stormare is on the cards. Yes!). There will be humour. There will be suspense. There will be romance. There will be a good movie on screens in a years time. I don’t quite know what it reminds me of, it really is quite original, but I definitely feel there’s a bit of “Buffy”, a little “Tombstone” and even some “Vampires” (The John Carpenter flick) in there.
Bring it on Tommy!