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You'd be hard pressed to find a better example of a film ruined by
trying to be too many things to too many people than Red Riding Hood,
which opens Friday and, by all rights, should close Saturday.
The most obvious audience Hood hopes to attract is fans of the Twilight
film series, snagging the director of the first film, Catherine
Hardwicke, and refashioning the Little Red Riding Hood folk tale into,
in a remarkably halfhearted way, a love triangle between three
extraordinarily uninteresting characters. (If all three had been eaten
by the wolf in the first act, we might have been onto something.)
What's weird about Hood, which inexplicably counts Leonardo DiCaprio as
one of its producers (stick to swimming in icy water, Leo), is that
this romantic angle is not its main thrust. It doesn't have a main
In fact, for a supposedly sexier take on a classic folk tale, it's in
desperate need of thrust in general.
It flits around the idea of being a more adult folk tale but never
commits. It throws in a bit of (pretty bad) CGI werewolf attack action
from time to time, but it's nowhere near violent or bloody enough (it's
PG-13) to interest action or horror fans. It has moments of campy fun,
specifically every second Gary Oldman appears as a sinister Cardinal
Richelieu-type character, but other scenes are played ridiculously
Perhaps the film's biggest mistake and that's saying something is
structuring itself like a Scream film. The Big Bad Wolf is indeed a
werewolf, and our sweet little Red (named Valerie, played by Amanda
Seyfried) has to figure out which of her fellow villagers turns into a
beast when the moon is full. Is it her forbidden love, the dull as
dishwater Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), who presumably equates to the
hunter of the folk tale? Or is it the man she's been arranged to marry,
the somehow even duller Henry (Max Irons)? Or is it one the other
remarkably dull villagers? And given how dull Valerie is, who the hell
On looks alone, Seyfried perhaps is perfectly cast as Red, considering
Christina Ricci might be a bit too old for the role. Seyfried's
pristine, alabaster skin and enormous eyes give Red just the right
look, but every time she opens her mouth you're begging for that
werewolf to put her out of our misery.
To be fair, no actor could be expected to excel given the cheesy
dialogue and Hardwicke's uninspired direction; solid veterans such as
Virginia Madsen, Julie Christie and Lukas Haas struggle to make an
impression, with Christie holding up the best. As Red's father, Billy
Burke seems more zoned out than James Franco at the Oscars, suggesting
he's only here for one more Twilight connection.
Only Oldman acquits himself well, simply because he treats the film as
the campfest it should have been from the opening credits. He's acting
in an entirely different movie, a Sam Raimi romp like Army of Darkness
or Drag Me to Hell, and Red Riding Hood briefly becomes almost fun
during Oldman's most animated scenes.
The film doesn't even look that great in a technical sense: The
exteriors look fake, all clearly shot on soundstages, and not fake in
an intentional "this is a dreamy heightened reality, because this is a
folk tale" way. They look fake in a "we really suck at our jobs" way.
Red Riding Hood is pretending to be a darker, more adult take on the
folk tale, but it's hardly the first: Neil Jordan mined the territory
in 1984 with the R-rated The Company of Wolves, focusing more on sexual
metaphors and heavy werewolf action. It wasn't great, but at least it
knew what it wanted to be. Red Riding Hood tries to be a little bit of
everything, but ultimately it succeeds only in being a tedious mess.
Tags for Red Riding Hood Full Movie
, Billy Burke
, Gary Oldman
, Shiloh Fernandez
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