Red Riding Hood (2011)
“Believe the legend. Beware the wolf.”
Red Riding Hood (2011)
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Lukas Haas, Gary Oldman
Synopsis: Set in a medieval village that is haunted by a werewolf, a young girl falls for an orphaned woodcutter, much to her family’s displeasure.
Catherine Hardwicke’s take on the Red Riding Hood fairy tale is probably influenced as much by young adult flicks like the Twilight series as it is by the original story, but her movie does at least capture a measure of the darkness of tone of the original. It weaves a rather tepid love triangle sub-plot around the more familiar moments of the fairy tale, while also introducing a manic werewolf hunter into the mix in the form of Gary Oldman (RoboCop, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), who brings just the right level of cartoonish intensity required to liven up what would otherwise be a nice-looking but rather dull storyline.
The title character is played by Amanda Seyfried, a willowy, plump-lipped blonde. She’s Valerie, a maiden in a medieval village, who is deeply in love with childhood friend, Peter (Shiloh Fernandez – Evil Dead) but betrothed to wealthy nobleman’s son, Henry (Max Irons). The lovers’ plans to run away together are derailed when Valerie’s sister falls victim to a werewolf that has plagued the village for years. Normally, a monthly sacrifice of a pig or goat is enough to satisfy the werewolf’s hunger, but this month there is a blood red moon which has apparently sharpened the creature’s appetite. Fearing that a sacrificial piglet isn’t going to do the job this month, the villagers enlist the aid of obsessive werewolf hunter, Solomon (Oldman) whose certainty that one of the villagers is the werewolf means that his tactics increasingly resemble a witch-hunt…
Red Riding Hood received a 12A rating in the UK, which should tell you all you need to know about the level of horror involved, and explains why the movie is a failure. Instead of trying to make a horror movie for kids or a horror movie for adults, Hardwicke has tried to make a movie for adults that kids can watch, and the result is a congealed confection – part-mystery, part whodunit-mystery – in which what horror remains is suggested rather than shown. What’s worse is that there’s a scattering of interesting moments which leaves us wondering just how good Red Riding Hood could have been had it been permitted to submerge itself in the darkness of the plot.
With their carefully teased hair and fresh complexions, the young leads all look like 21st-Century kids in fancy dress, while the older members of the cast – which includes amongst its number Julie Christie and Virginia Madsen – have the distinct air of conscientious professionals set on giving a good account of themselves while feeling absolutely nothing for the material they’ve been given.
(Reviewed 11th August 2015)