Reviews: Red Riding Hood

Secrets of a village.

  • spoilers be here*
Twilight had long since become almost a curse word to the movie industry, and some fear the movies will forever ruin the romantic horror genre.

With this is mind I went to watch Red Riding Hood, and came out quite surprised about the quality of the movie.

No don't get me wrong, it is FAR from a masterpiece, but it still manages to create a lively world and a great cast of characters, whom it is very easy to root for.

Valerie is the daughter of a woodcutter, a job that pays very little and because of that, her mother has arranged a marriage to the smith's son. Valerie herself would rather marry another woodcutter, Peter. The village she lives in has been for two generations been terrorized by a monster wolf, who asks the village to leave their best cattle for it. In exchange, the wolf will not attack the villagers. But one day, the wolf has killed a person,Valerie's sister. This events starts a snowball effect from which Valerie and all she is close will not survive unscathed.

Red riding hood is an interesting specimen, it is clearly here to cash in on twilight, but instead of becoming a boring muck it rises above and delivers a story of a village and its secrets. And one of the highlights of the movie is indeed the village and how it is potrayed. Instead of going to route of a typical medieval village, the village is possibly located somewhere in russia and has kept their own culture, only slightly adapting it to christianity. One of the most chilling scenes is the celebration of the wolf's passing, using Fever Ray's wolf, it looks and feels like an actual celebration of a kill. The movie also subverts the cliche where villagers quickly turn on their own, it is clear they care for their own.

Other than that, the characters from and outside the village are developed suprisingly well. Father Solomon's motives for his werewolf hunt are less about doing God's work and more about bitter revenge for his family. Valerie is clearly someone who has lived in the village her whole life, with iron nerves and clever nature. Her suitors are also far less competive over her

But, how does this movie handle its namesake? Again, surprisingly well. The writers clearly know the multiple versions of the story and insert scenes and phrases from the tale in moments where they fit.

A first draft script made into a second rate film

Red Riding Hood is a rushed attempt to sate the appetites of the audience from Twilight, and it fails to even impress fans of that movie series. Considering the standards these people had to begin with, we are talking about a pretty sucky cash in.

The movie begins by introducing us to Valerie, a girl who lives in a village plagued by a werewolf. She, like every other character, is totally undeveloped. She has no discernable personality, no objective, and no characterisation. In the opening five minutes we learn that her sister has just been murdered. It might have meant something had we known she even had a sister in the first place (let alone, her sister having a character).

To deal with the rise in werewolf attacks, an evil priest cum werewolf hunter is brought in to kill the beast. It is a role Gary Oldman could play very well, but he is so badly written we never get to enjoy the hammy performance to its fullest. He travels with his wife's severed hand in a box, a giant iron elephant (which serves an absurd purpose) and a crossbowman who insists on wearing a restrictive helmet that prevents him from getting a single accurate shot. Clearly the man is insane, but the villagers somehow lack the desire to run his ass out of town despite him torturing the locals and being totally ineffectual at dealing with the werewolf.

This movie features a fairy story, a love triangle, and a murder mystery. The script tries to juggle all these elements around until we have too many threads that go nowhere. I correctly worked out who the murderer was half an hour in, the romantic roles lack presence to the point that they are barely of interest, and references to the fairy story are totally perfunctory. The director Catherine Hardwicke is notable for her excellent cinematography, atmosphere and her brave efforts in translating horrible source material, but the script she was handed for this movie was so trashy, she didn't stand a chance. I feel bad for her, because I don't honestly think she is a bad director and I hoped she would enjoy some success after the Twilight producers ditched her.

For anyone who enjoyed the first Twilight movie, just don't bother. The guys aren't even that charming. Which is the least you could ask for in a movie like this.