They live near a dark forest, in a medieval village terrorized by a murderous werewolf, and two men are locked in battle over the love of a village girl. Is it that drivel of a film Twilight, I hear you ask? No, but you are pretty close. Directed by Twilight’s Catherine Hardwicke, Red Riding Hood is the newest romance-fantasy flick to come out of the US. Frankly, it was a disappointment.
The film is an amalgamation of various versions of Little Red Riding Hood, a fairy tale about a girl with a red cape, which originated in Europe around the 17th Century. It is the horror version of the tale, taking the original story and skewing it to include a fantastical set of characters. The Big Bad Wolf in Hardwicke’s version is a werewolf – a human that transforms into a murderous wolf during a full moon, and can infect others by biting them. Compared to the one in Twilight, this werewolf is impressive. Graphically the beast is stunning and brutal, and it is more interesting to watch than the film’s human cast.
Amanda Seyfried of Mamma Mia! fame is the main character Valerie, a village girl stuck in a love triangle, and the butt of the problems with the monster. It’s difficult at times to take Seyfried seriously, as she meanders around with a lost air. Unfortunately she fails to elicit any sense of fear through her performance, which in turn dampens the overall effect of the film. Gary Oldman (Sirius Black of the Harry Potter series), whose role is that of a crazed monster killer, starts out with a rather odd take on a French accent. It is distracting at first, but his performance improves once the film gets into the thick of the action. As for the rest of the cast, none of them are particularly outstanding.
In trying to understand the film it did occur to me that the performances were true to the time in which the story was set, but the amount of over dramatization was shocking. It would have been better as a theatre piece. However, two things that I did enjoy about Red Riding Hood were its action sequences and its twists. There were many instances where I thought I knew what was happening, but the film managed to fool me. It had decent suspense and an overall creepiness to it, but I think it would be best to wait till its DVD release.