Film Review – Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood (M)

Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke

Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Virginia Madsen

One star

Review by Julian Wright

If you dare venture into your local multiplex to see Red Riding Hood, take a friend, because you will need the extra fingers and toes to count the number of draw droppingly awful moments. Dreadful dialogue, lame action, terrible staging, recycled love triangle, a talking wolf. The list goes on. I have never giggled, snorted or groaned in disbelief more times during a straight faced drama than this rendition of the 700 year old fairytale.

This version is so inept even Twilight fans, who this is clearly geared towards in light of the vampire saga’s phenomenal success, would utter more guffaws than gasps. It is a case of a wasted opportunity to come up with something fresh and wildly entertaining. Instead, those behind it had a specific Twilight loving audience in mind and panders to them. I’m guessing this will just drive those Twihards straight to the next installment of their favourite blood sucking saga.

One nice touch is the slight aging of the popular heroine. Red riding hood, or Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) is a young adult living in an isolated village on the edge of dark and creepy woodlands. One not so nice touch is the Twilight-inspired love triangle this version has her in. While her family is forcing her into a marriage with village rich boy Henry (Max Irons), Valerie has the hots for orphaned wood cutter Peter (Shiloh Fernandez). A young, desirable woman caught between two young men. How original. As if the dynamic didn’t cause enough awkwardness, the town is being terrorized by a vicious and largely unseen wolf that is shredding up the townspeople.

Enter Father Solomon (a predictably over the top Gary Oldman) who arrives in town hot on the wolf’s trail and shakes things up. He comes armed with some interesting information – the wolf is a cursed human and it could be any one of the townspeople that has been morphing every full moon. This whodunnit aspect a la Scream is another nice touch but is not fully realised. Fingers are pointed and suspicious looks are shot at others, but the storytellers do not commit to it so most of the fun is drained.

When Valerie has a close encounter with the wolf she discovers there is somehow a connection between them. She learns it is keen to take her away from the village and it will only leave the people alone of she goes with it. The conversations between Valerie and the wolf in which this becomes apparent are howlers. Now the beauty has more on her plate than being torn between two love sick young men.

Director Hardwicke sticks to safe and familiar forbidden love territory with even less inspired results than her Twilight effort. The similarities between the two films are not the main issue, however. It is the countless “what were they thinking?” moments that have been strung together. The G rated girl on girl grinding at the village dance, soap opera delivery of dialogue and the perfectly coiffed appearance of far too many characters are just a few more silly elements that help complete the list. At one point, my friend pointed out “For a town that doesn’t even have running water, Red Riding Hood’s mum looked pretty good!”

One Response to “Film Review – Red Riding Hood”

  1. I wanted to like it, despite being very aware of the fact that I wasn’t the target audience…
    I was ready to excuse, its misjudged use of music, its blatant attempts to copy the twilight movies, its OTT acting by Gary Oldman… but in the end it’s too silly for genre lovers, or those who were looking for something more refined like “in the company of the wolves” for example, and it’s too close to Twilight (almost like a copy of it); so much so that it actually annoyed what were meant to be the fans. Also, it must be said, a lot of those Twilight lovers came from the original books, here it all just relies on the similarities with another saga.

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