Red Riding Hood – Review


This wolf story is a real dog.

Misdirection, when executed well, can change the entire landscape of a motion picture. Imagine a criminal discussing to a law enforcement officer about a drug deal. He talks of all the players involved, includes an elaborate backstory of how they were brought together for a job and lets the officer know what he witnessed the night the deal was to have happened. But there was no deal to be made. It was all a ruse. The scenario described is taken from The Usual Suspects, a crime drama that’s final reveal is a classic example of misdirection, making the audience gravitate toward one character only to have the person be somebody else.

Red Riding Hood, on the other hand, can’t hold such a distinction.

Portrayed as the story behind the legend of the classic fable, “Little Red Riding Hood,” Catherine Hardwicke’s film takes place in an undisclosed time in the town of Daggerhorn. Just like Twilight, Hardwicke again finds herself in a situation directing a story about a young woman torn between two men. Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) loves Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), a brooding woodcutter and close friend, but her parents have arranged for her to marry Henry (Max Irons), a suitor who can provide her with a better life because of his family’s wealth. Valerie values true love over having the opportunity to live affluently, so she chooses Peter. Before they can elope together, however, comes the crushing news that Valerie’s older sister has been mauled to death by a werewolf.

Oh, did I forget to mention that the town has had a problem with a werewolf for nearly two generations? Pigs and other cattle were sufficient enough to keep a truce between the wolf and the residents. But apparently its diet has changed within the last hundred years.

So without little hesitation the men gather their pitchforks vowing to “Kill the Beast!” Which is a great idea; attack the wolf on its home turf, up in the mountains, where it has the advantage.

While man versus beast would be enough to sustain a feature film, we are also given the opportunity of trying to discover just who is the big, bad wolf. The wolf has a keen interest in Valerie, wanting her to be with him. The obvious choices would be the two men in her current love triangle. But could it be someone else in town? Various candidates are offered throughout, including Valerie’s own grandmother (Julie Christie). Because it wouldn’t be a Red Riding Hood if grandma didn’t at least give the allusion of having big eyes, big ears and big teeth.

Gary Oldman shows up after the first act as Father Solomon, a specialist in the art of hunting werewolves. (I wonder if him and Van Helsing were ever pen pals?) He chews the scenery like the pro that is, embellishing way too much. To be truthful there’s a fair bit of overacting by the actors when it comes to their performances.

And there in lies the biggest problem with Red Riding Hood. It’s trying too much to pass itself as a Twilight film when it is really a thinner version of Stephenie Meyer’s series. Which in and of itself is hard to believe. Its production design is visually striking, I’ll give it that, as is the crimson cape and hood (it wouldn’t be “Little Red” without them), but it is just a bad, bad story that lacks the “sparkling” sheen teenage girls should expect.

Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Notable Cast:Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons, Julie Christie, Lukas Haas, Virginia Madsen
Writer(s):David Johnson

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