Sophia Lillis can’t catch a break — or at least her characters can’t. In It and the upcoming It Chapter Two, the actress is harassed by a deranged supernatural clown. And in Gretel & Hansel, which just released its first trailer, she plays a girl who gets stuck with her younger brother (Sammy Leakey) in the home of an elderly woman (Alice Krige) with less-than-pure motives.
Based on the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, the movie is written by Rob Hayes and directed by The Blackcoat’s Daughter filmmaker Osgood “Oz” Perkins.
“It’s awfully faithful to the original story, it’s got really only three principal characters: Hansel, Gretel, and the Witch,” Perkins recently told EW. “We tried to find a way to make it more of a coming of age story. I wanted Gretel to be somewhat older than Hansel, so it didn’t feel like two 12-year-olds — rather a 16-year-old and an 8-year-old. There was more of a feeling like Gretel having to take Hansel around everywhere she goes, and how that can impede one’s own evolution, how our attachments and the things that we love can sometimes get in the way of our growth. Sophia Lillis is really fantastic. She has one of those faces that the camera immediately understands, which is something that rarely happens. For my style and for my taste, which tends to be minimalist and a little bit more mannered, she’s really a dream.”
Perkins shot the film in Ireland, with locations including the Hell Fire Club, a ruined hunting lodge once frequented, so local legend has it, by the Devil.
“The Hell Fire Club is this massive, foreboding stone structure, just all by itself, on the top of a hill,” Perkins said. “It almost feels like an old prison or something like that. I guess the story is that the Devil played cards there…. One night, [someone] drops one of his cards, and goes to pick it up, and one of his opponents has cloven feet.”
Was it unnerving to shoot there, or is the filmmaker — the son of Psycho star Anthony Perkins — beyond being creeped out at this point?
“You’re just trying to make your day,” Perkins said. “That was a very very difficult day, actually. It’s cold and it’s super-wet. I mean, if you’re worried about any supersitition, you’re not paying attention.”
Gretel & Hansel hits theaters Jan. 31. Watch the new trailer above.