Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters vs. Carrie, two snazzy remakes of very familiar, dark stories.
PremiseHansel and Gretel grew up, and they grew up bitter (and pretty). As Jeremy Renner‘s voiceover explains, Hansel and Gretel nearly died as children, but it only made them stronger. Killing one witch didn’t satisfy their itch, and H&G are making a career of hunting and beheading evil, rather goblinesque, sorceresses. They have matching black outfits and large, fancy automatic cross bows and flame guns. They know what they’re doing, and they’re good at it. Unfortunately for the Grimm brothers’ favorite siblings, their new nemesis is not a witch—but some other pulsing, dark, child-robbing force. Can H&G rise to the occasion? Probably, but only after settings lots of things on fire.
Carrie (Chloë Grace Moretz), is a socially ostracized high school student with a deeply religious (i.e. creepy) mother played by Julianne Moore. She also has telekinetic powers. Tired of being bullied by her classmates, Carrie unleashes her powers at the school prom with fatal consequences.
Neither is a new story, but at least Hansel and Gretel attempts to spruce up its age-old premise by focusing on the brother and sister when they are adults rather than children. Advantage: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters
Butchering a Classic, Angering FansWhile everyone knows the story of Hansel and Gretel, there is no single, great film adaptation that comes to mind. Brian De Palma’s Carrie remains a cult classic 37 years after its original release. Today’s youth might not have seen it, but the image of Sissy Spacek as Carrie covered in blood in her prom dress is an instantly recognizable, genre-defining snapshot. Cult fiction fans are notoriously difficult to please; the stakes are higher for the crew of Carrie than that of Hansel and Gretel.Advantage: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters
CastAs H&G , Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton put up a good fight. Renner knows his way around an action movie and has recently risen from sidekick (The Town) to leading man (The Bourne Legacy). While less famous in the US, Arterton reached the hot, mindless action-lady apex when she played a Bond girl in Quantum of Solace and has an astounding seven films in production. Ultimately, however, Julianne Moore’s four Oscar nominations and Chloë Grace Moretz’s current status as the coolest 15-year-old in the world trump the rising middlebrow action stars.Advantage: Carrie
Nightmare PotentialOnly children have nightmares about witches, but anyone can have a nightmare about a crazed, blood-covered, murderous teenage girl with a fanatical mother and problems at home. It’s no secret that kids can be cruel and/or weird: Stephen King modeled the character of Carrie on two high-school girls King knew, one when he was in high school, and the other as an English teacher. Film industry myth has it that neither girl lived past her 20s. Scary stuff.Advantage: Carrie
ParentingHansel and Gretel suffer from evil stepmother syndrome (don’t we all). Facing severe financial difficulties, Mrs. Woodcutter convinces her husband that they cannot afford to feed two children and that the prudent and kind thing to do would be to abandon them in the woods. After some mild groaning, Mr. Woodcutter leads his only two children, his progeny, into the woods and abandons them to starve or be eaten by wolves. Okay, so Carrie’s mother is a troubling, poisonous force consumed by her religion—but at least she never abandons her child to die.Advantage: Carrie
VerdictRemaking treasured films is a high-stakes, high-reward business—but with Moore and Moretz leading the cast, Carrie has a pretty good shot. Winner: Carrie
Trailer Face-Off runs every Thursday. For more, click here.