Review – Red Riding Hood

Dust off the old storybook and read up on all your favourites because over the next few years a barrage of films will hit the big screen with several directors ‘reimaging’ the classics. Get ready for ‘Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters’ starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton plus a new take on the classic ‘Snow White’ with Julia Roberts on board to play the evil witch. Hollywood executives are starting to plunder fairytales for ideas the same way they ripped apart the comic book world looking for superheroes. ‘Red Riding Hood’ is the first fairytale to get a makeover and the results are mixed. Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) lives in a medieval village that is being haunted by a werewolf that is attacking members of her family. To complicate things Valerie is arranged to marry local rich kid Henry (Max Irons) who she has no feelings for, her true love is a local woodcutter Peter (Shiloh Fernandez). On top of her werewolf and love troubles a priest named Solomon (Gary Oldman) shows up in the town to find the true identity of the werewolf. ‘Red Riding Hood’ has a nice little plot shrouded in mystery that will keep you guessing until the end but it’s let down by some sloppy acting, poor special effects and woeful direction.

The plot of ‘Red Riding Hood’ is straight forward but it has a nice murder/mystery element that keeps you hooked. Everyone is a suspect and a nice bit of paranoia plays throughout the film that has you second guessing every character. The big problem is a lot of the story is dripping with teen romance geared directly at the ‘Twilight’ audience that will have 14 year old girls and single women in their 40’s weak at the knees while the rest of us gag into our vomit bags.

The main cast of ‘hot young things’ are disappointing and do nothing but stare blankly at each other like a deer in headlights. The older cast try their best with the material trying to elevate it above the melodrama but Gary Oldman, Billy Burke and Julie Christie just end up overacting which is disappointing considering the talent they have. Another notable performance comes from Virginia Madsen’s face; despite the medieval village setting she seems to have found the magic fountain of dodgy Botox.

Director Catherine Hardwicke walked away from the Twilight franchise after setting up the first film and ‘Red Riding Hood’ could be listed as an unofficial sequel. Hardwicke sticks to the same formula she used with ‘Twilight’ with some odd camera work, strange edits and trees. Hardwicke loves to film trees or find creative ways of fitting a tree into a scene which isn’t too hard considering some of the wooden acting in this film. Mudding up the visuals are scrappy special effects that make the werewolf look more cuddly than scary which solidifies Catherine Hardwicke as the master of taking iconic monsters and turning them into mush.

‘Red Riding Hood’ is lightweight fantasy for the ‘Twilight’ generation that will no doubt fill the void until ‘Breaking Dawn Part 1 and 2’ hits cinemas.


The Popcorn Junkie