Tommy Wirkola’s nazi zombies film seemed like an interesting premise but the word out of Sundance on the film was largely negative. Thankfully, it hasn’t seen a wide release yet so it’s time for Wirkola to get out ahead with his next project before his film tanks. And he has an idea. Not a script, not a treatment, not an outline. An idea: Hansel and Gretel, fifteen years after their ordeal with the witch and the gingerbread house, are now bounty hunters who go after witches.
Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s production company, Gary Sanchez Prods., has leaped at the idea, seeing it as a film in the vein of “Shaun of the Dead” and “Evil Dead 2”. Says McKay, “The idea is, they’ve grown up and they hunt witches. It’s a hybrid sort of old-timey feeling, yet there’s pump-action shotguns. Modern technology but in an old style. We heard it and we were just like, ‘That’s a freakin’ franchise! You could make three of those!'”
I almost wish McKay was lampooning himself there or at least the idea of a production executive. And it’s not even that I think this is a bad idea. The problem is that it’s just an idea and without a worthwhile story, high concept ideas wear out their premise quickly. Think about “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”. That’s just an idea. Cinematical’s Elisabeth Rappe pointed out in her great review of the book that all author Seth Grahame-Smith’s changed was about five percent of the novel to include zombies. That’s not a story. That’s a remix. There are YouTube parodies with more original content.
Granted, I think this Hansel and Gretel movie has room to build its own story and hopefully Ferrell and McKay can guide its comedy, but the reason films like “Shaun of the Dead” and “Evil Dead 2” work so well is because their creators understood that they had to go beyond premise and homage and craft their own story, even if it was heavily inspired by the works of others. They knew they had to craft a full story with characters and hopefully Wirkola understand that as well and doesn’t just create a remixed Hansel and Gretel.