Dir: Duane Journey. US. 2013. 86mins
Fairy-tale horror and stoner comedy combine to good effect in Hansel And Gretel & The 4:20 Witch, a smart and entertaining youth-orientated chiller that delivers a goodly amount of gore along with the slacker laughs, despite all being rather familiar in a Buffy The Vampire Slayer sort of way.
Molly C. Quinn is great as Gretel, a smart stoner turned investigator, and shows that she can carry a lead role, while Lara Flynn Boyle gets to change her persona from wrinkly old crone to would-be sex kitten.
The film opens in the US with the title Hansel And Gretel Get Baked through Tribeca later this month, and screens in the EFM in Berlin. It is driven by an energetic and charismatic performance by Molly C. Quinn (who also has an associate producer credit) as Gretel as well as blissfully over-the-top turn from Lara Flynn Boyle as an evil, cannibalistic, pot-growing witch.
Quinn is perhaps best known as almost-too-perfect Alexis Castle in the hit TV crime series Castle, but here she gets to grow-up a little, smoke some dope, rack-up the sex appeal and get involved in some nasty comedy horror thrills. Alongside Quinn and Lara Flynn Boyle, other recognisable faces include Michael Welch (from the Twilight films) as Gretel’s brother Hansel, and cameos from Yancy Butler and Cary Elwes.
Gretel and her stoner boyfriend Ashton (Andrew James Allen) has discovered the joys of the new Black Forest marijuana strain (he describes it, to reinforce the fairy-tale link, as part ‘Swiss Miss’ and part ‘Snow White), which is apparently being sold by a little old lady in Pasadena. He goes off to score some more dope, but sadly there is more to seemingly mild mannered old lady Agnes (Boyle) than meets the eye, and after recklessly eating some of her ginger-bread house finds himself drugged and dragged down to her cellar where nastiness ensues.
Hansel – annoyed that he has been asked to look after Gretel while their parents visit the Stiltskins – doesn’t want to help Gretel in her search for Ashton, so she recruits the feisty Bianca (Bianca Saad), whose dealer boyfriend Manny has also gone missing at Agnes’s house.
They find a way to break into the house, and discover all sorts of nastiness in the basement. It seems that Agnes (surprise, surprise) is a witch, sucks out the life force from her victims and also happens to be fond of the taste of human flesh. When Hansel arrives at the house to try and track them down things get even more terrifying.
Molly C. Quinn is great as Gretel, a smart stoner turned investigator, and shows that she can carry a lead role, while Lara Flynn Boyle gets to change her persona from wrinkly old crone to would-be sex kitten. The gore effects, while essentially by-the-numbers, are nicely staged though the climax feels rather rushed. The ‘4:20’ of the title is apparently used in the US to refer to the consumption of cannabis and a link to the dope-smoking sub-culture, and while it does make the film’s title a little clunky it does also mean it can trade both on witches and Hansel and Gretel.
Production company: Kerry, Kimmel & Pollack, Dark Highway Films, Uptik Entertainment
International sales: Jinga Films, www.jingafilms.com
Producers: Brett Hudson, James Cotton, E. Thompson, Michael Pollack
Executive producers: Mark Morgan, Curtis Sobel, Jonathan Heine, William S Beasley
Associate producers: Jane Awad, Lara Flynn Boyle, Molly C. Quinn
Screenplay: David Tillman, based on a story by Duane Journey and David Tillman
Cinematography John Smith
Editor: Sean Yates
Production designer: Billy Jett
Music: Carey Allen Jackson
Main cast: Molly C. Quinn, Michael Welch, Lara Flynn Boyle, Reynaldo Gallegos, Andrew James Allen, Bianca Saad, Lochlyn Munro, Yancy Butler, Eddy Martin, Cary Elwes