In 1967, an orphaned boy only referred to as Hero Boy (Jazhir Bruno) moves into his grandmother’s cosy home in Alabama. Played by Octavia Spencer, Grandma confides in Hero Boy about an occurrence in her youth, when her friend was turned into a chicken by a witch that preyed on children. She warns hero boy about the dangers of talking to female strangers who lure children with sweets.
The classic Roald Dahl horror story is remade with all the modern flare of an Ikea showroom. It’s just way too shiny and clean.
To be honest, I haven’t read the book nor seen the 1990 original – except for clips. I love Angelica Houston, who played the original Grand High Witch and the aesthetic. She perfectly portrays the original coven leader in all her snooty glory and the prosthetics are incomparable to Hathaway’s refined ‘witchy’ glamour. An aesthetic which relies heavily on deformities to portray evil, a critique that Hathaway has publicly apologized to the disabled community for.
I watched this movie with my five year old nephew over the Christmas holidays and he watched it approximately ten times after that. I wondered what the appeal was. Of course it’s not scary for me, but might be quite unsettling for a child and that thrill of horror is born early in us.
Chris Rock’s narration offers a light, lazy approach to creating the magic needed to tell such a story.. Octavia Spencer portrays a loving, spirited grandma who lifts the spirits of her distraught grandson with music.
It’s understandable that a different aesthetic style was chosen for the witch but the reality is that the efforts of the ’90 adaptation go much further than the 2020 remake.
Surely a remake is supposed to push forward the advancements of technology in film. Personally, it feels a little lazy and predictable. The wide smile has kind of been done by the Cheshire cat and the Joker, no?
It didn’t offer anything extra menacing and the effects were just a bit naff.
Perhaps, no matter the make-up – we still see Anne Hathaway, the reluctant princess, the heroin in Les Mis, the nerdy Vogue assistant – perhaps that’s wrong…
Nevertheless, I see her and I can’t unsee her. There’s no way we look at Angelica’s Houston’s witch aesthetic and think of Morticia Addams, that’s for sure.
I’m sure there are much more in-depth analysis’ of this remake, with comparisons to the book and the film, so I won’t try to dip any deeper.
For me, it only scratched the surface of what was essentially a great opportunity to faithfully tell this great story with 21st century cinematic advances and more depth.