Quick Takes: Gretel & Hansel, The Boy II, This is Our Home, Housewife

GRETEL & HANSEL is a dark reimagining of the classic fairy tale told visually with sumptuous production design and theatrical imagery. Dread seeps from the screen like an icy mist and the wicked shenanigans reveal the stories of a girl becoming a woman, and a monster wanting to be a mother. We know the original story so the director instead focuses on the sinister, evocative ride. This is an art film with anachronistic dialogue, adept performers, and quiet slow burn that won’t appeal to the broad audience it aimed for in theaters. But those who can appreciate the stylized witchery and subtle wickedness will find a feast in the details.

BRAHMS: THE BOY II doesn’t undo the first film's nutty twist so much as broadens the mythology with a heavy injection of the supernatural. Katie Holmes is good as the bad parent who lets her child keep a doll buried in the woods. It's a sinister but common approach to put the child at the center of the danger. It's a good set up but unfortunately the tension is not sustained making it too much of slowburn. This is especially odd considering this doll does a lot more that sit-and stew like Annabelle. The film's structure is also hampered by a botched intro, lackluster climax, and an unnecessary coda. It looks great but the screenplay needed another pass.

THIS IS OUR HOME ends and lingers on the brain, making it itch. There is –possibly– a grand design at work by the director that creates a lasting uneasy, dreadful effect. On its own merits the storytelling is much too slight and uninteresting and the characters are equally dull. They are a couple in crisis and its that universal feeling that reels you in. And the crisis is substantial, literally making itself known and staring them in face. There's odd things that are not called out, like does that kid only have four fingers? Then there comes a moment of brutality and an honesty so devastating it made my bones ache. So much unresolved angst is what’s most intriguing.

HOUSEWIFE, from the director of BASKIN, serves up an equally bizarre second feature and it's a strange brew of 1970s Giallo pulp, witches, and Lovecraft. The story bares only minimal plot points and devolves quickly into meaninglessness. The objective is to take the viewer on an horrific visual journey through a dreamlike state. If this is your jam, you might enjoy the hell out of it, but stay until the last moments for a brief glimpse of some thing majestic.