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Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters


Stars: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arteron, Famke Janssen, Peter Stormare, Thomas Mann, Derek Mears, Pihla Vitala

Director: Tommy Wirkola

A 'B' feature for late-night horror hounds, combining elements of Hollywood costume adventures of decades gone by with a Hammer horror film, decked out with state-of-the-art effects, frenzied editing, some brisk cursing and anachronistic dialogue: 'Hey,' says Gretel (Arterton) to Hansel (Renner) as if she were in CSI, 'you're gonna wanna come see this'.

The film, set in some vague medieval past, starts with H and G's parents sending them away to a nighttime forest where they discover a house made not of gingerbread but candy, where they dispatch their first witch within.

The story then moves on to their adult lives as witch hunters, armed to to the teeth with an unlikely array of weapons from a variety of centuries, arriving at a village where 11 children have been kidnapped by, as it turns out, the grand high witch (Janssen) herself, who plans to rip out the heart of a great white witch at the blood moon, and needs six girls and six boys to do it (don't ask).

There are one or two original touches - the hunter afflicted with the 'the curse of hunger for crawling things'; the witches' troll (Mears) who falls for Gretel - but this is mostly uncultured slice and dice, with more witches' heads blown off than you could shake a broomstick at.

Arterton, sporting a (dodgy) American accent presumably to match Renner's, gives a career-low performance; Janssen screeches her socks off as the chief witch (there are many); and what The Hurt Locker's Renner is doing in this farrago is anyone's guess. Any thoughts of a sequel should be firmly resisted.

David Quinlan

Germany 2012. UK Distributor: Paramount. Technicolor/Colour by deluxe.
87 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 22 Feb 2013