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The 2020 Dark Fantasy Film That Has Horror Fans Divided

It's notoriously difficult to get horror enthusiasts to agree on the merits of a movie. That's largely because opinions tend to vary dramatically as to what stylistic elements make the best genre treats. To be more concise, there are horror fans who dig on screaming femmes, shameless jump scares, and buckets of fake blood. Then there are those who get their creepy jollies in the form of atmospheric chills, heady thrills, and fake blood splattered with both elegant timing and precision, and never the tween shall meet.

Somewhere in the middle, perhaps, the code for the perfect horror movie exists. Even as most can agree old schoolers like Carpenter (Halloween) and Romero (Night of the Living Dead) and modern maestros such as Aster (Hereditary) and Peele (Get Out) have proven capable of cracking it, far more miss the mark completely. As such, horror fandom remains relatively divided over which films make the cut as classics.

When it comes to delivering divisive entries into the horror genre, Oz Perkins is officially three for three on that front. The writer-director made his feature debut with one of the most disturbing movies of the last decade, The Blackcoat's Daughter, and followed that film with an even slower-burning beast in 2017's Netflix venture I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House. While both films received their share of cheers from the critical set, genre diehards lobbed their share of jeers at each.

Not surprisingly, you can indeed add Perkins' latest release, 2020's pitch-black gothic fantasy Gretel & Hansel to the list, even if it's safe to say neither of his prior films have proven as sharply divisive as his brooding, unabashedly feminist take on the infamous Grimm's fairy tale.

Horror fans really can't seem to agree on Gretel & Hansel's merits

Released in January, Gretel & Hansel was one of the few horror flicks to receive a legit theatrical release in the Year of the Plague. Judging from its middling box office returns, even horror enthusiasts weren't particularly taken with Perkins' bold re-imagining of the classic tale of a brother and sister stumbling into the home of a cannibalistic witch. Those that were continue to debate the film's merits on Reddit.

The popular opinion about Gretel & Hansel's perceived shortcomings is that in fronting atmosphere, it alienated audiences searching for cheap thrills. Redditor u/nderhjs obviously believes as much, posting "Because it does style and atmosphere SO well, it really appeals to the crowd who value style/atmosphere over script." User jamai36 quickly backed that opinion, "Oz Perkins puts big emphasis on atmosphere and this goes for something very specific that won't appeal to everyone."

While Phinsfan17 enjoyed Perkins' stylish approach, they found his script lacking, and were clearly turned off by the film's slow-burn approach, "Love the set pieces. I'm a sucker for highly stylized sets. Atmosphere is great. Story was boring and predictable, felt like a bad young adult novel. It feels a lot longer than it is, which to me, says a lot about a movie."

For the record, Gretel & Hansel runs for a paltry 87 minutes. While Perkins' glacial pacing does make it feel a bit longer, a scene-devouring villainous turn from Alice Krige more than keeps the action moving, and the film only further cements Sophia Lillis' status as a major star in the making. Gretel & Hansel is unquestionably one of the best looking movies of 2020 too, by the way. But if you want to form your own opinion (and you really should), it's now available to stream on both Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.