Red Riding Hood: Movie Review

Red Riding Hood Movie Cover
Review by Michael Pickle,

When considering whether or not to watch Red Riding Hood you may think (like I did) that you just might be pleasantly surprised. Especially since the legendary Gary Oldman (Dracula) is one of the main players. You might also think that, even though this was directed by Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke, it might rise above the sappy, unoriginal tween melodrama and actually be a good film. I'm sorry to say after sitting through this thing that the melodrama is abundant and never rose above an average, played out fairytale.

Red Riding Hood centers on the young and beautiful Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) living in an old fairytale village with grass rooftops in an undisclosed place and time. I'm not sure what time period this was supposed to be, but I expected Robin Hood and his Merry Men to ride into town at any time (which might have made for a better film). Young Valerie is torn between two men. Her true love Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) the lowly wood-cutter and the local rich boy Henry (Max Irons) whom her parents are forcing her to marry.

Although this bitter love triangle looms; a more pressing matter concerns the town. A werewolf prowls the forest at night forcing the townspeople to offer an animal sacrifice during every full moon to keep the beast away. When Valerie's sister is found dead during the Blood Moon it becomes clear that the animal sacrifice is no longer enough. The frightened villagers, hungry for revenge, send for renowned werewolf hunter Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) to help them. When he arrives he informs them that the werewolf takes human form by day and could be any one of them.

One good thing about this film is that it's chock full of actors who do an admirable job in a film that is clearly beneath them. Amanda Seyfried is an ever-rising star who would have been well advised to pass this one up on her way to the top. In fact this made her last horror turn, Jennifer's Body, look like a bona fide instant classic. Gary Oldman is always good and should have strangled his agent for allowing him to stoop this low. Shiloh Fernandez takes a clear step down from his star-making turn in the twisted Horror/Thriller Deadgirl back in 2008.

This is obviously a tween friendly PG-13 film and they may be the only ones who would enjoy this sad little flick. Wait, I take that back. Let's give the tweens a little credit here. If you have ever been read a bedtime story you are likely to find this film boring and predictable. Even the werewolf couldn't save it. I found myself sitting through the tired drama waiting for the beast to appear which, much like the rest of the film, was highly disappointing and not worth the wait. The half CGI half bad puppet was just laughable.

This film in one word. Typical. False leads as to the identity of the werewolf are shameless. Is it the Grandma? Is it Peter? I never really cared. Everyone loves to run around looking very suspicious despite knowing that everyone is a suspect. Also, if you think they resisted doing a lame rendition of the "Grandma, what big teeth you have" bit you are sadly mistaken. Not to mention seizing every opportunity to show Valerie running around in the snow with her bright red cloak.

Predictable down to the closing minutes we are treated to lame over-explained reveals accompanied by flashbacks to key scenes followed by an ending featuring a voice-over narration waxing poetic about how deep and profound this story is. This sappy derivative of every children's story ever told since the beginning of time is anything but.

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