Fifteen years after they despatched a man-eating witch in her gingerbread house, Hansel and Gretel (Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton) are now a tooled-up pair of bounty hunters ridding the land of nasty necromancers. However, the sorceress-scything siblings meet their darkest challenge yet when they find themselves up against shape-shifting villainess Muriel (Famke Janssen). Dead Snow director Tommy Wirkola's grown-up fairytale mashes up bloodspatter and spells to gory effect.
Back in 1812 The Brothers Grimm hinted that fairytale siblings Hansel and Gretel might have a darker side when they burned a cannabalistic witch to death in her own oven.
Here they've grown up...but they've not grown nicer. They're a couple of wisecracking, leather-clad mercenaries savouring their mission to viciously rid the land of witches with the help of a steampunk arsenal of weaponry.
Arriving in a vaguely familiar town from which nippers have regularly been disappearing, they free a young woman who's wrongly been accused of witchcraft...and make an enemy of the bloodlusting sheriff (Peter Stormare).
They also discover that Famke Janssen's Über-witch Muriel has hatched nefarious plans to make her coven immortal via a black magic ritual than means the slaughter of the local kiddies...and the removal of the virginal Gretel's still-beating heart.
Director Tommy Wirkola demonstrated his gorily warped aptitude for horror in Dead Snow when the intestine of a zombie SS Stormtrooper was re-purposed as a climbing rope.
Here he re-invents ickle Hansel and Gretel as a couple of swaggering assassins never happier than when lopping limbs off cackling crones with a cheeky quip.
It looks great with the world conjured up by the Brothers Grimm - dark, foreboding forests, mistily mysterious hamlets and spectral hags rocketing by on broomsticks - niftily recreated on location in Germany with the gruesome carnage well up to snuff.
However, the script could do with some black magic worked on it. Wirkola appears content to believe the novelty of Arterton - an able comedy actress - mouthing the F-word is enough to keep audiences amused.
Gore hounds will relish the sliced appendages count but - with a sharper script - you can't help thinking this could really have cast a spell.