Red Riding Hood Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Shiloh Fernandez, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: March 11, 2011
PLOT: There is a werewolf in a medieval village that is haunting everyone, especially Valerie (Seyfried). Valerie is also caught in a love triangle.
WHO'S IT FOR? If you saw "love triangle" in the plot and thought SOLD, then you can make it through this movie just fine. For everyone else, I'm not sure what you are doing sitting through this film.
The first ten minutes are so vital to a film. They let you know who to care about, what world we're in, and hopefully, they've hooked you in for more. The first ten minutes of Red Riding Hooding are a perfect indication of what we're in store for, but that's not a compliment.
We're given Valerie as a small child in a quaint, removed village. She has to get a pale of water for mama (how adorable ... cough, cough), but she also likes hunting with Peter, later played by Fernandez. Then we flash to the present where she loves Peter, but he's poor, so there is an arranged marriage in her future. There's also a wolf, and a sister we didn't know existed is dead. How can we feel sad for a character (the sister or Valerie) if we didn't even know she was around?
You might think a lot just happened in the first ten minutes. You'd be wrong. All of this is told so flatly that you might think it's part of the game. Once we learn it's a werewolf, not just a wolf, I looked around a the cast of characters and couldn't fine a reason to care. Plus, a love triangle alone is not enough of a reason to be hooked. We need stakes!
Red Riding Hood tries to thrust the idea that it could be anyone that is the evil werewolf. They even have one moment where a friend of Valerie's is berating her, yet in the very next scene she stands in front of her trying to protect. They kill one guy in a second, yet they throw another in the iron elephant. Why? Because. The most oddly out of place moment comes when at a tribal dance celebrating the death of a wolf, Valerie sees Peter dancing with another, so Valerie grabs a girl and grinds on her.
The insulated community tries to capture the same vibe as The Village, a film that ultimately failed. That's not to say the journey in The Village wasn't a good one. I cared and was curious about the beast. M. Night Shyamalan still had tons of credibility. Director Catherine Hardwicke doesn't have that same momentum. Twilight (the first one) didn't compare to the pop-lit book. It almost seems she's trying to prove she was the right one for the job. The comparisons are impossible to get away from. A small community deep in a forest, a love triangle where one is kind and one is brooding, and Billy Burke. Burke and the rest of the cast perform as if they don't know if it's a period piece or a town play. It's stunted and soulless. Gary Oldman doesn't even rise above.
Hardwicke's style is to order do the flashbacks and throw in wolf references even if they have nothing to do with the original "Little Red Riding Hood." There's Peter (a nod to "Peter and the Wolf"), a "Three Little Pigs" moment, anything about werewolves, plus the obvious Twilight stuff. She has proven that she should go back to the small stuff like Thirteen. Yes, because of the setting, there are some style points with Red Riding Hood, but that's really the only compliment I can muster. The idea of updating a children's story into a adult nightmare is a good one, and someone could still do it with this story, because Red Riding Hood fails.
FINAL SCORE: 3/10