‘Gretel & Hansel’ director Osgood Perkins dishes on new movie, directing Jordan Peele’s upcoming ‘Twilight Zone’ episode

Noah Levine

In a reinterpretation of the original Grimm tale, director Osgood Perkins (“The Blackcoat’s Daughter”) has brought fairy tale nightmare “Gretel & Hansel” to cinematic life.

The Daily Texan sat down with the director to discuss the process behind his new terrifying film and his upcoming project with Jordan Peele. 

The Daily Texan: What draws you to directing certain projects?

Osgood Perkins:  It’s different for everything, obviously. But I guess the one thing that resonates with me on an irresistible level in the case of this was the fact that (the script) honored the original material and honored (it) so nicely and didn’t apologize for (the story of the original Hansel and Gretel) that we all love and have all loved for so long. It was faithful. I thought that was brave and was going to really allow a lot of room for originality and design. As long as we stayed with the narrative, we’re going to be able to build our world. 

DT: How do you go about crafting a scary sequence? 

OP: There’s lots of times when I don’t bother to pay off dread with a jump scare. I feel like it’s fun to sort continue to suspend dread. So there are a lot of times I’ve found in the movies that I made, at least so far, that the scare aspect is cumulative. It’s like the sum total (of dread) as opposed to peppered throughout.

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DT: How do you approach working with child actors? Especially within the horror genre. 

OP: There’s a lot of stuff that hasn’t happened for them (yet), and their understanding about things is pure in a way, so it’s easy for me as a director to blow their minds a little bit. To be able to do that before you work on a scene and to sort of reveal to the kids, “This what this is really about.” Or like, “You’ll discover this later in life. This s— really happens like this or this is what people are like.” I think you get a certain wonder from kids and certain curiosity, which is so film-ic, right? So, as long as you can kind of stir curiosity in your cast, I think you’re in good shape.

DT: Advice for student filmmakers?

OP: My advice (to) student filmmakers is probably the oldest piece of advice there is, which is just do what you know — and it can be any genre. The great thing about the horror genre is that it kind of permits all things. Like, magic is allowed. It’s such a direct route to human emotion and human experience, what it means to be alive and what it means to be, like, one day not alive. So whether it’s the horror genre or any other genre, you kind of gotta start with what’s true for you, what you know (and) what you’ve experienced. I think when people try to start out by thinking like, “I want to write a World War II epic,” you know, it’s fine, but make the protagonist yourself. My protagonists (embody) myself, even if they’re women.

DT: What’s next for you?

OP: I wrote and I am directing an episode of “The Twilight Zone” for Jordan (Peele) and that gang. Jordan Peele’s company and I have been looking into something together for a while. I think I’m the only person who’s written and is directing their episode in an authorship kind of way. So I’m going to do a really kind of bananas meta “Twilight Zone” episode. It’s pretty good.