RED RIDING HOOD (2011)
DIRECTOR: Catherine Hardwicke
STARRING: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons and Julie Christie
GENRE: Horror, Fantasy, Mystery
Let’s start with the cinema tagline: “From the director of Twilight comes this breathtaking vision of 700 year old legend”.
Then let me say I couldn’t help it, I know it’s not necessarily cool any longer to love both the Twilight books and films, but I don’t care, I love them anyway! And so as soon as I saw the trailer for this movie I was sucked in. It had to be good… Right?
This is of course a remake of the original fairytale. Set in a medieval village, which every full moon is plagued by a werewolf. Years ago they reached an uneasy peace with the wolf that each full moon they would leave out their best livestock for him to eat and in exchange he will not kill the villagers.
Valerie is our lead character, the titled “red riding hood’ who has fallen in love with woodcutter Peter, but this film would not be complete without the current fashionable love triangle theme. So she is pained to discover that her parents have arranged for her to marry Henry, the wealthy blacksmith. But just as she and Peter are about to run off to be together, something terrible happens and her sister becomes victim to the werewolf.
Instead of living in fear, the villagers decide to take things into their own hands and hunt down the wolf and call in the legendary hunter Father Solomon. But Father Solomon begins a Salem style witch hunt where villager turns on villager as they begin to suspect one another. At heart of the hunt is Valerie who discovers she has a connection with the wolf.
The setting of the film is fabulously atmospheric. Lots of spookiness, without being too scary (I’m a total chicken when it comes to scary movies). Julie Christie is splendid as Valerie’s grandmother and Gary Oldman as the over-zealous werewolf-hunter. The mystery of the wolf kept me guessing until the very end and I had no idea who it was until the big reveal. But sadly, the love triangle felt more like a love duo, with a forlorn blacksmith standing on the sidelines.
Despite the spooky background, the film does take the time to fit in some tongue-in-cheek nods to the original fairytale. We of course have the red cape and the wolf, but there is also a witty dream sequence where we get the famous words “my Grandma what big teeth you have…” and the story would not be complete without a hero woodcutter.
I did expect a bit more from this film, maybe it’s because I admittedly got totally hooked in by the trailer, but I expected for example a lot more from the central love story/triangle. I wanted to be sucked in and have my heart squeezed. However, I did love the visual realisation, the stunning shots and the use of Valerie’s red cape against the stark backdrop was striking.
This film wasn’t quite what I expected, but I still enjoyed it. It’s probably not one I’d buy on DVD when it’s released to watch again, but at the same time I don’t regret my cinema ticket purchase.