FTP: Hansel and Gretel Get Baked (2023)

APRIL 21, 2023


I've had Hansel and Gretel Get Baked in "the pile" for probably six years at this point, always thinking "I'll watch it on 4/20, because lol" and then forgetting about it. But with my renewed purpose to actually get through said pile once and for all, I was determined to finally get it over with this time around, though I didn't get to start it until late* and naturally I fell asleep, watching most of it on the morning of 4/21, which actually marks a different celebration (Happy birthday, Antonio Bay!). But whatever, one more pile movie down!

If you don't know by now, I'm not a drug user. I enjoy alcohol (though I've also cut back there!), but have never found any interest in drugs - I had an edible during a bachelor party and took the smallest possible hit off a joint a few years ago, and that is the entirety of my drug consumption in my 43 years on this planet. I've always figured that I'm weird and rambly enough as is, so drugs would just exacerbate those (not always welcome!) habits. Plus I'm allergic to cigarette smoke and figure pot would produce the same effect (in that I find it hard to breathe and my voice starts to sound like that of a demon), so... yeah. Just not my thing!

So naturally I'm not really the target audience for this sort of thing, which if you haven't guessed by the double meaning title, turns the familiar fairy tale heroes into modern day stoners. Well, Gretel is; Hansel doesn't partake, but he gets nearly "baked" (meaning cooked) so it's not false advertising. Anyway, the witch has a special strain that is much desired, and while she has a guy selling on the streets for her, some folks - including Gretel's boyfriend - just stroll up to her door (in Pasadena!) and ask to buy it, at which point she lures them inside and kills them. With each victim she gets younger, so when she first appears she's clearly a younger actress in (not great) old age makeup, but by the halfway point you'll hopefully recognize Lara Flynn Boyle, who seems to be enjoying returning to evil woman territory (The Temp hive, rise up!).

But... that's pretty much all there is to the movie. Someone comes to her door, she gets them inside, gives them some tea or something, and then kills them. Eventually the filmmakers toss some zombies (previous victims) and an evil dog into the mix, but it does little to alleviate how repetitive and glacial the pacing is, despite the seemingly (sorry) high energy premise. I swear a full third of the movie involves Boyle (who never leaves the house) talking to someone at the front door, which made it difficult to find my place this morning as I rewound the Blu-ray (it had resume play, bless them) as every third scene looked the same. People at the door, Gretel (Molly Quinn) wandering around looking for her boyfriend, Hansel (Mike from the Twilight movies, the poor sod) looking for HER, repeat. Eventually some rival drug dealers get introduced, but as with the zombies, it's just a brief interruption to what is an otherwise shockingly low energy and monotonous movie.

It's also not particularly funny, which was surprising. I don't mean "That joke was awful" unfunny, I mean it simply didn't have too many jokes. Boyle tosses in some sinister puns and there's the occasional weird joke, but I was expecting an Idle Hands type tone, and I have to admit I was kind of relieved it wasn't like that. Not that it worked as an actual scary movie or anything, but with the repetitive structure I feel the movie would be completely unbearable if I had to put up with a lot of mugging and puns and poorly edited physical comedy. That it was relatively played straight was, ironically, one of the film's few good points.

And if you were attracted to the thing by seeing Cary Elwes' name on the cover, don't get too excited - not only is he only in the first scene, but he's almost unrecognizable as a nameless meter man, sporting coke bottle glasses and a dorky haircut - he kinda resembles Milton from Office Space. On the other hand, Boyle is in it more than I expected, so that was nice, even if she had to wear that awful makeup for the first half. The makeup isn't the only visual blemish, I should note; the transfer on this Blu is horrendous, as nearly every dark scene has that crushed grey/halo effect going on - I've seen VHS tapes that looked better.

But I mean, I wasn't expecting it to be good, and in fact I figured it'd be some Gingerdead Man level atrocity. That it was merely forgettable and dull was a strangely pleasant surprise. And it inches me one step closer to being rid of the ugly little plastic shelving tray that houses the "pile" from atop my record collection, and once I watch that last disc, I can get another cube and in turn, have room for more records! Thanks, Hansel and Gretel Get Baked.

What say you?

*Because I went to a screening of the first two episodes of Amazon Prime's new Dead Ringers series, which modernizes/enhances the story from the book (and yes, subsequent Cronenberg film) while also making Beverly and Elliot into women, played by Rachel Weisz. And so far it kinda rules? It's funny, dark, sexy... kinda fires on all cylinders, and Weisz is clearly having the most fun she's had since, hell, maybe The Mummy Returns? All episodes drop today, I highly encourage it even if you're crying foul at "remaking Cronenberg" (who, at that time, was coasting on his success from remaking The Fly, so).


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