A chilling update of Hansel and Gretel, German director Christoph Hochhäusler’s debut feature fascinates even as it repels, unfolding with the pitiless logic of the fairy tale. An exasperated woman orders her young stepchildren out of the car and drives off. By the time she returns they’ve vanished. Obsessively fearful of losing her husband’s love, she shuts herself off in the austere emptiness of her house, denying all knowledge of the kids’ whereabouts. Girl and boy wander through the woods, hooking up with a Polish handyman who leads them on a gypsy odyssey of religious pilgrimages and impromptu blackmail schemes. The characters are mostly unsympathetic, with the exception of the little boy, whose spontaneous niceness is routinely quelled by his bitchy sister. Hochhäusler ruthlessly toys with his audience’s fear of disaster, creating a sense of locale that functions like a hypnotic destiny while withholding the balm of empathy. In German and Polish with subtitles. 94 min.