Reviewed by Michael Erb
Teen siblings Hansel and Gretel live a quiet life in Southern California. Hansel loves photography and Gretel loves weed. Her boyfriend too, but it helps that he always has the best weed. One day Gretel’s burnout brings over this new strain called Black Forest High that’s so powerful, he runs right back to the dealer for more. It turns out that a sweet, unsuspecting old lady in Pasadena has opened up shop with the brand new bud. What nobody seems to realize until it’s too late is that this old lady is a youth stealing, man-eating witch that loves the taste of young people. When her boyfriend never returns from the geriatric drug purveyor, Gretel enlists the help of her reluctant brother to find this witch’s house and get her boyfriend back.
With a movie called Hansel and Gretel Get Baked, you would hope the filmmakers understand the importance of tone. There is no way this could be a serious horror film; it’s got to be funny or it’s a disaster. Luckily, Director Duane Journey and writer David Tillman made a funny little gore flick that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The movie hits the tonal sweet spot that any horror comedy should aim for. It’s goofy without being too campy and gruesome without being too grim.
Starting off, the filmmakers know to go for broke with the comedy. Stoner tropes work alongside elements of the original fairy tale to set up horrific and humorous moments. High teens regret ever having eaten the witch’s gingerbread house. People get lost in a forest of weed in the basement. Even the trail of breadcrumbs gets a modern update and a modern reason for why it’s a bad idea. And then there’s the dark, twisted humor of torture and cannibalism. No matter how gory Hansel and Gretel Get Baked gets, the violence is always played for cartoonish laughs. If you do not like that mix of revulsion and giggles when a man’s gentiles are thrown into a meat grinder, this isn’t the movie for you.
Gore looks great in Hansel and Gretel Get Baked. The reliance on practical effects and makeup gives the movie an appealing visceral aesthetic. People are dismembered, cooked, turned into zombies, and de-age over the course of a near ninety minute runtime all with makeup and prosthetics. The film goes for that balance of sick images and dark humor that every horror comedy tries for and fewer still pull off. Though the combination of gore and humor doesn’t create a flawless collaboration, the extreme images and the pitch black lines do make for some uncomfortable chuckles. There are a few instances of CGI use, but those moments are short and pretty. The best thing to come from budget digital effects has to be when Gretel and her boyfriend get so high they see lines of music flowing around them.
You have to love Lara Flynn Boyle as Agnes, the evil witch. She delivers a campy performance that’s both funny and menacing. Boyle somehow makes the munchies sound truly sinister, even with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Molly Quinn and Michael Welch make for a great sister and brother pair. Their bickering and rapport certainly lend the authentic feeling of teenage siblings just barely tolerating each other. The cast on the whole is capable and game for anything, which helps bring out the humor of the material.
It’s not perfect, but the movie doesn’t have to be. The film doesn’t try to do anything outside of retelling the fairy tale with more stoner humor and bloody carnage. However, that’s what makes it so enjoyable in the first place. There are fun characters with good dialogue. The dark humor hits its marks and the script has some clever moments. The gore and scares are satisfying and messy. Better yet, there’s even a cameo by Carry Elwes with a ridiculous mustache. Hansel and Gretel Get Baked is a lot of fun for the comedy loving horror fan in all of us.