This review originally ran on November 10th, 2015 during the AFI Film Festival

For the entirety of this decade, studios have been dusting off the storybooks of lore. The myths of beanstalks and glass slippers have been twisted into dark and angsty spectacles for the post-Harry Potter world. The results are quite fantastic visually – and, hey, the box office may very well speak otherwise – however, there has been a lack of merrymaking that make folklore so timeless. Tale of Tales, the English-language debut of celebrated Italian director Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah) is the twisted fairy tale fantasy that cinema needs right now.

Tale of Tales takes three fairy tales of unorthodox royalty from Garrone’s homeland and remarkably reimagines them as stories happening in neighboring kingdoms. There are kings who keep giant pet fleas, princes born from the blood of sea monsters, and witches whose milk turns the elderly young again. It’s dark, twisted and bonkers with a pitch black sense of humor to boot. A far cry from Garron’s more celebrated works, though a welcome addition to this decades affinity with our classic fables.

Tale of Tales opens in select theaters Friday, April 22nd.