Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #158
Number of Views: One
Release Date: February 19, 2013
Sub-Genre: Stoner Comedy/Slasher
Country of Origin: United States
Running Time: 86 minutes
Director: Duane Journey
Producer: James Cotten, Brett Hudson, Mark Morgan, Michael Pollack, E Thompson
Screenplay: David Tillman
Special Effects: Gary Bentley, George Frangadakis
Visual Effects: Leandro Marini
Cinematography: John Smith
Score: Corey Allen Jackson, Zak Sobel
Editing: Sean Yates
Studio: Kerry Kimmel & Pollack, Dark Highway Films, Uptik Entertainment
Distributor: Tribeca Film, Jinga Films
Stars: Molly C. Quinn, Michael Welch, Lara Flynn Boyle, Bianca Saad, Eddy Martin, Andrew James Allen, Reynaldo Gallegos, Celestin Cornielle, David Tillman, Yancy Butler, Lochlyn Munro, Claudia Choi, Edward Zo, Doug Haley, Cary Elwes
Suggested Audio Gingerbread:
Kikkakake 420 Eyes
I feel obliged to commence this particular appraisal with a frank admission. You see, I have a tendency to get high. While pretty assured most of you know that by now, for any newcomers, I need to get that out there before proceed any further. It’s not something I’m proud of, but neither is it something I’m ashamed of, simply a life decision which I make of my own free will. Moreover, last night I picked up a new crop. As I sat in the rear seat of my dealer’s automobile and readied my crisp notes for the transaction, he informed me as to the potency of this particular strain and offered me a quick sniff of his wares. Right off the bat, I knew I would be adequately baked within the next thirty minutes or so, directly after making the necessary small talk and trundling back to my haven to blaze.
Three or four joints to the wind and I was more relaxed than a pensioner’s bowel-basket and no longer prepared for any kind of physical exertion. So I grabbed some sugary produce, rolled one for the road and decided on watching some irreverent splatter to while away the buzz time. After firing up TJ Nordaker and Andy Signore’s 2003 slasher The Janitor and noticing instant parallels to Troma, I decided I wasn’t feeling anything that low-rent this night and plumped for Hansel & Gretel Get Baked instead. After following the trail of Skittles and clicking play I felt instantly justified in my choice.
The opening was hammy for sure but, with one-time fringe A-lister Cary Elwes poking the fun, it appeared any indiscretions were to be justified so I let it run. Within a minute this laggard pot head was seduced by its well orchestrated title sequence featuring enough bud crammed into pop-top vials to keep Cheech Marin in nice dreams for an entire weekend. Fate had played its hand, my path was chosen and Keeper was all in for a good old-fashioned Grimm fairytale.
Everybody just loves getting in on the act. 2013 actually spawned three other motion pictures which tackled the fable of Hansel & Gretel but Journey’s take deserves to be judged entirely on its own merits. Its connotations are loose and instead it paints its mural within a contemporary setting, using its wicked witch origins and splicing them into a feature which is more of a speculum of Gregg Araki’s Smiley Face than anything else.
It focuses around medical stoner siblings Hansel (Michael Welch) and Gretel (Molly C Quinn) and the events which lead them to peril. Black Forest is the bait, luring in the slackers as they can’t get enough of its potent high. The origin is a basement green house stashed underneath the foundations of Agnes’ suburban home. Agnes also possesses a sugar-coated gingerbread house, concealing a faded swastika-branded German passport, and has a kiln fired up in the basement.
The femme fatale of our piece acts as linchpin to the whole kit and caboodle, regular red carpet rose Lara Flynn Boyle playing Agnes with great exactitude and enough nonchalance to fit the tone exquisitely. If Journey is looking to franchise this then he certainly gets off to a barnstormer through his casting choice here and Boyle balances sweet innocence and sultry cockiness with sadistic swagger. She effortlessly carries each scene she is in, offering us a sassy serpentine turn which has us all frantically removing the ginger breadcrumbs from our gluttonous oral cavities before she sucks the lifeforce from our cheeks too. Oh and she has one of Mrs Baylock’s hell hounds strutting around her Pasadena cess palace for good measure.
Meanwhile the haze-filled labyrinthine grow room which she uses to cultivate her harvest almost does enough to warrant its own credit and there are numerous well-placed nods to the source material to steep it in its dreamlike ambiance, courtesy of John Smith’s opulent photography. Evidently Agnes gets high on our own supply and her lackadaisical demure lends itself to events perfectly. There is a glorious double-snuff which showcases her ‘meh’ attitude and it really is a delight to watch. Another priceless moment comes courtesy of a cussing five-year old and his treasured older brother and moments like this are peppered throughout its duration.
Back to the rubies, and Hansel & Gretel Get Baked features ample grue to justify it’s luxurious $4.5 million budget. It isn’t profuse by any means but when Agnes slides on her bad mommafucker apron and begins kindling the kiln we are treated to some decent hard candy. Journey wisely decides against crossing the line into anything too excessive as it wouldn’t sit right within the confines of the tale but there are two or three doozies to soak your bloodshot orbs in.
Another tick on Journey’s scorecard is also a nod to writer David Tillman. Together they craft characters who we relate to despite their hateful actions. Even the real douche-canoes of the piece give us reason to grin and this is credit to the chemistry so clearly forged in the process of taking this from page and screen. I would imagine Journey and Tillman shared a few doobs off set and, judging by Boyle’s delectable turn as Agnes, I’d say she was paid in hash cakes. The whole surrounding cast probably got high on vapors as none of them put so much as a pinky wrong.
Hansel & Gretel Get Baked is not high art. It takes a piece of cherished folklore and rolls it up into a tightly packed joint which washes over you exactly how a film of ts ilk should. This is for the Idle Hands crowd and Duane Journey wears his seven-pointed leaf as a broach of authenticity. It’s one of those pictures where the fun evidently being had on set translates well to the final product and we are left thankful for the blow-back.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10
Grue Factor: 4/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers: A mild tsunami featuring eye gouging, throat slicing, shin carving, gun-toting, faucet siphoning, head shoveling, ear syringing, heart plucking and essence sucking. If that tickles your fancy then be my guest and grab yourself some gingerbread.
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
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