Synopsis: Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) is a beautiful young woman torn between two men. She is in love with a brooding outsider Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), but her parents have arranged for her to marry the wealthy Henry (Max Irons). Unwilling to lose each other, Valerie and Peter are planning to run away together when they learn that Valerie’s older sister has been killed by the werewolf that prowls the dark forest surrounding their village. For years, the people have maintained an uneasy truce with the beast, offering the creature a monthly animal sacrifice. But under a blood red moon, the wolf has upped the stakes by taking a human life. Hungry for revenge, the people call on famed werewolf hunter, Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), to help them kill the wolf. But Solomon’s arrival brings unintended consequences as he warns that the wolf, who takes human form by day, could be any one of them. As the death toll rises with each moon, Valerie begins to suspect that the werewolf could be someone she loves. Panic grips the town as Valerie discovers that she has a unique connection to the beast–one that inexorably draws them together, making her both suspect…and bait. – Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: March 11, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Thriller, Romance
The original Red Riding Hood story, known as a fairy tale or folktale to generations, is most often referred to as originating with the Brothers Grimm. The story itself has been altered, adapted countless times for various art forms, and it is synonymous with childhood. On film the story has been adapted for children, horror fanatics, and even steamy erotica.
The latest adaptation by screenwriter David Johnson is an adult themed film, with the teen market surely being pursued as well with the, dare I actualy print this, twilight-esque marketing around the film. Something that makes complete sense considering Catherine Hardwicke, the director of the first Twilight film, is the director. As well as the casting of very pretty people to play star-crossed lovers in the love triangle that is at the center of this big bad wolf story. Amanda Seyfried is Valerie, the “pretty one” in this centuries ago secluded village. From childhood she has been in love with Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), but recently betrothed to the wealthy Henry (Max Irons). In the midst of this crisis of love the wolf that has for over twenty years been satiated with full moon sacrifices of prize animals from the villagers has attacked and killed Valerie’s sister. After a failed attempt to kil the wolf themselves Father Auguste (Lukas Haas) sends word to the one man who has sworn to rid the world of werewolves, the purple robe wearing Solomon (Gary Oldman). Everyone in Solomon’s eyes is a suspect and no one safe from the wolf.
The above is the jist of the film. Valerie ends up having a “connection” to the wolf that borders on the pedohiliac and incestuous; something that makes you cringe with discomfort. The production design is beyond poor, besides Grandmother’s house as it actually looks real and everything else like it is made out of plastic and painted to resemble wood. Thankfully the forest is a real forest or all would be lost. The script is written so that it makes sense to the viewer but that does not mean it is worthy of any accollades from anywhere; the term sophomoric is a step above. The disaster that is Red Riding Hood lies more in the direction than anything else. I would like to believe Catherine Hardwicke was heavily medicated and not thinking clearly for the duration of the production. Her handling of a group of very talented actors should make you want to put her in a pig mask and leave her out for the wolf to take as a sacrifice.
Everyone involved (including Virginia Madsen, Billy Burke, Lukas Haas, and Max Irons) might as well have just stood there and said nothing because when they do speak it is uncomfortably devoid of any emotion, timing, or showing a glimmer of talent–and these are talented people. Gary Oldmans’ Soloman is a raving madman with unconventional methods for interrogation but even his bouts of emotion-fueled monolgues cannot stir the other characters out of their director imposed coma’s. The greatest travesty must be Julie Christie’s grandmother. With cheap gimmickry through editing and well cued lines she becomes a character of great creepiness and lunecy that if she were your own grandmother you would have cut the ties long ago and never visited her home again. Then there is the handling of the mentally challenged young boy who lives in the village. I realize this film takes place during a time before medicinal science banished the idea that such a person is involved in witchcraft and cursed but seriously, could Hardwicke and Johnson not have seen how terrible this boy is being depicted on screen? The pangs of disgust I felt have yet to leave me completely. Amidst all of this it is amazing that Seyfried’s Valerie remained an agreeable character to watch even when given lines that fell flat and absolutely nothing to work off of from her fellow actor’s.
This is a horror film, but not because it is frightening or blood curdling scream inducing. This movie shall be termed a horror film because of the horror it provokes in a viewer when realizing they have just spent roughly one-hundred minutes of their life watching it that they can never get back. It will infuriate and anger. Make you want to scream at the next person you meet and surely induce road rage should you get in the car directly after. I have likened the term abomination to describe Red Riding Hood, I think anyone who sees it will surely agree.
After a brief prologue of a memory from Valerie and Peter’s childhood we are introduced to adult Valerie as she creeps through the forest, watching Peter chop wood. In order to get Peter’s attention Valerie does something naughty, in very PG terms, and then entices him out into the forest deeper in order to take back what she has taken from him. Their eyes meet and the lust filled connection between these two characters is solidified. They are magnetic when they speak, tease, or touch. Actor Shiloh Fernandez has eyes that could pierce your soul and a smile sure to melt teenage hearts around the world. Seyfried is as always a unique beauty with haunting features that never quite look normal or natural but only make her more beautiful for those reasons. Just as quickly as these two people have captivated their audience we are torn away from them with the sound of the village bell, the sign that the wolf has struck.
For countless minutes after this that feel like an eternity you eagerly await a moment alone between Valerie and Peter. It is the only part of the film that works in any specific way after all to keep your attention. It happens one more time worth noting and this time it is a sexy romp in the hay that brings them together. Just as brief as the time before and sorely interrupted for more annoying “plot” it proves that these two do have the spark together that could make them a couple to envy. Could is the important word here as without a great hero and heroine story to back up this chemistry it is worth nothing. Aside from these brief moments they spend together their relationship is lost in the tragic whole that is Red Riding Hood.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Catherine HardwickeAlex MaceJulie Yorn
- Producer(s): David Leslie Johnson
- Screenwriter(s): Amanda Seyfried (Valerie)Gary Oldman (Father Solomon)Lukas Haas (Father Auguste)
- Story: Billy Burke (Cesaire)
- Cast: July Christie (Red’s Grandmother)Virginia Madsen (Suzette) Nancy RichardsonMandy WalkerThomas E. Sanders
- Cinematographer: Brian Reitzell
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USACanada