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Film / Red Riding Hood

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Red Riding Hood is a 2011 supernatural horror-romance film and re-imagining of the popular fairy tale directed by Catherine Hardwicke and starring Amanda Seyfried as the girl in the hood.

The film is set in the medieval village of Daggerhorn. A young woman named Valerie plans to run away with her woodcutter lover, an outsider named Peter, in order to avoid an arranged marriage to Henry Lazar. Valerie and Peter's plan to elope is forestalled when Valerie's older sister is found slaughtered by the mysterious werewolf that has terrorized their village for years. The people of Daggerhorn have maintained an uneasy truce with the beast by offering the creature a monthly animal sacrifice. But under a blood-red moon, the werewolf ups the stakes and takes a human life. Hungry for revenge, the people summon a famed Witchfinder General, Father Solomon, to help them track down and kill the beast. Solomon’s arrival, however, brings unintended consequences, as he warns that the werewolf, who takes human form by day, could be any one of them. As the death toll rises with each moon and panic grips the town, Valerie discovers she has a unique connection to the beast – one that inexorably draws them together, making her both suspect and bait.

A novelization by Sarah Blakely-Cartwright was released a few months before the film's premiere and is somewhat notorious for not including the ending.

The film provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: Of the original fairytale. While the original was a fairly simple story about a young girl visiting her grandmother in the woods and running afoul of a cunning wolf, this film expands the story to include a werewolf having terrorised the heroine's village for generations, a witch hunt for the werewolf and its accomplices, and a love triangle subplot. The "Little Red Riding" tale actually forms the climax of this movie.
  • Affair? Blame the Bastard: Played with. Cesaire killed Lucie in a violent rage when he realized she was actually the product of Suzette's affair. Interestingly, when he confesses this to Valerie, he actually seems regretful, saying he feels sorry for her and that it was a momentary lapse of control. He certainly didn't let Suzette or her lover off the hook, either.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: All over the place.
    • Lucie was in love with Henry who was in love with Valerie who is in love with Peter.
    • Cesaire who loved Suzette who was still in love with Adrien and was having an affair with him.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: According to the trailer, the story is set in the 1300s. No exact date is given in the film itself.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The ending can be interpreted as this.
  • Arranged Marriage:
    • Valerie and Henry. They break it off when Henry realises she loves Peter instead.
    • Cesaire and Suzette.
  • Asshole Victim: Possibly Father Solomon, given his mistreatment of Valerie and the young Claude.
  • Babies Ever After: In the Alternate cut, when Peter returns as a werewolf, we see Valerie holding her and Peter's baby.
  • Beast and Beauty: Werewolf!Peter and Valerie.
  • Betty and Veronica:
    • Valerie is at the center of a Love Triangle between the rebel Peter (Veronica) and Nice Guy Henry (Betty).
    • Later it's revealed, Adrien (the Veronica) and Cesaire (the Betty) were this for Suzette (the Archie). Her having an affair with Adrien didn't help either.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The Wolf and Father Solomon.
  • The Big Bad Wolf: The Wolf.
  • Big Damn Heroes: During the climax at Valerie's grandmother's house, Peter.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Valerie's family, and by extention the Lazars. It's implied several generations of her family have been werewolves, passing the curse down to their children and terrorizing the village for years. And then there's the affairs, the murders, the accidental incest...
  • Birds of a Feather: Valerie and Peter. They both feel like misunderstood outsiders and want to leave Daggerhorn for a better life.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Prudence. After Valerie is chained up, Prudence proceeds to tell her just what she thought of her all this time, despite pretending to be her friend.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Even though the werewolf is gone, the villagers remain frightened and superstitious, a lot of people are now dead, Valerie can never reveal the truth about the Wolf or she'll be persecuted, Suzette has lost her husband, her lover and her daughter and Peter is a werewolf. But, Henry gets to go off and be a hero, Peter learns how to control himself and eventually returns to Valerie, allowing them to finally be together.
  • Black Humor: "What happened to the rabbit?"
  • Blame the Paramour: After losing his temper and killing Lucie upon discovering she wasn't really his daughter, Cesaire sought revenge on both his wife Suzette for her infidelity by scarring her across the face and then killed her lover Adrien in the caves.
  • Black Vikings: One of the few times this may be justified: Father Solomon has obviously traveled all over the place, and it's possible he may have picked up the African brothers and the Asian man in his retinue on his travels. The brothers have African accents to drive this point home.
  • Bloodless Carnage: While the werewolf attacks are gore-less, there is actually some blood splattering throughout.
  • Broken Bird: A male example in Father Solomon, who was forced to kill his own wife. It caused him to be a little overzealous in his duties.
  • Burn the Witch!:
    • Poor Claude is stuffed inside an elephant-styled brazen bull, for no more reason than being an oddity. It is heavily implied that he is simply mentally challenged and has a fascination for sleight-of-hand card tricks. Sadly, this is Truth in Television, as many were persecuted for being misunderstood or exhibiting behaviors unexplainable at the time. Martin Luther actually wrote that children believed to be "changelings" (i.e. changed by fairies, based on common Medieval legends) were soulless and should be killed. By his description of their behavior, they were probably autistic or mentally challenged. One wonders if any of these "changelings" were actually killed after or before his advice.
    • Everyone thinks Valerie is a witch because she can understand the Wolf. And the villagers think the Wolf wants only her, so she's being offered as a Human Sacrifice.
  • Bury Your Disabled: Claude dies being stuffed inside a blazing bull mechanism and left to burn alive, not just for being suspected of being The Wolf but also because of his mental disability.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Suzette's affair with her love Adrian results in the death of her child Lucie, herself being attacked and left injured by The Wolf in her sleep (actually Cesaire), her love Adrien being mauled by The Wolf and many casualties, among other things.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Father Solomon's hand with the silver fingernails which the Wolf tore off, as Valerie uses it to go and kill who she thinks is the Wolf.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Valerie and Peter.
  • Collateral Angst: Lucie's death causes anguish in Valerie's family and much change to the small village who have spent years sacrificing small animals to The Wolf to protect themselves.
  • Costume Porn: Hoo, yeah.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: As it turns out Peter, who wears black most of the time.
  • A Deadly Affair: An affair is revealed to be the catalyst of the events of the film, which ends with at least a dozen people dead. Suzette cheated on her husband Cesaire, who unbeknownst to most people, is a werewolf. Suzette got pregnant and claimed the baby, Lucie, was Cesaire's. He eventually intended to give both his daughters the 'gift' of lycanthrophy during the blood moon (the only time new werewolves can be made), but when he tried to telepathically communicate with Lucie in his wolf form, she couldn't understand him and he realized she was Not Actually His Child. Enraged, Cesaire killed Lucie, killed Suzette's lover and then went on a murderous rampage around town, demanding that his biological daughter Valerie leave him with or else.
  • Death by Irony: Father Solomon is stabbed to death by one of his knights after being bitten by the Wolf. "A man bitten is a man cursed."
  • Death Is a Sad Thing: Everyone, especially Valerie, is in mourning and sorrowful when the village townspeople lose Lucie to the werewolf.
  • Doomed by Canon: Valerie's grandmother. Although in some versions she lives, she ends up being the Wolf's final victim.
  • Empathic Environment: The weather starts out sunny, then when the village has learned that the Wolf killed one of their own, the weather turns cloudy and starts snowing.
  • Everyone Is a Suspect: Until the werewolf's human identity is revealed, no one is above suspicion. Except Valerie and everyone who is seen on-screen at the same time as the wolf, that is. Of course, few major characters beside Valerie do appear as the same time as the wolf. Lampshaded by Father Solomon. "[The Wolf] could be your friend, your neighbor, even your wife".
    • With the exception of Valerie, all the characters from Daggerhorn are either played by actors with brown eyes or wearing brown contact lenses. Most notable of the latter is Julie Christie, who plays Valerie's Grandmother, who is famous for her blue eyes. This was to add to the suspense and mystery on who could be the werewolf in hiding, as Valerie saw the werewolf had brown eyes in her encounter with it.
  • Familial Cannibalism Surprise: A particularly squicky element of lesser known early versions of the folk tale makes its way into the film. The wolf tricks Valerie into eating the remains of her grandmother.
  • Fan Disservice: Suzette's face ruined with scars after being clawed by The Wolf.
  • Fanservice:
    • Valerie and Peter's heated make-out in the granary.
    • A close-up shot of Valerie's cleavage as Peter starts to unbutton her blouse in the wheat grainery.
    • The dances between Peter/Rose and Valerie/Prudence during the celebration night.
    • Valerie and Peter having sex in the snow by the film's ending.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Suzette comforting Valerie by confessing that like Valerie, she didn't love her arranged spouse at first when they were married — she was in love with another man. This comes back to bite her though, and change the film's perceptions.
      Suzette: I didn't love your father when we were first married. I was in love with another man. (Valerie looks at her in shock) But I came to love your father, and he gave me two beautiful daughters...
    • The longing looks Suzette and Adrien share at one another while mourning Lucie in Valerie's home.
    • The dirty look Cesaire gives Adrien as they split up through the tunnels.
    • Father Solomon mentioning the bloodline.
    • Valerie being able to understand The Wolf.
    • At the masked festival, Cesaire wears a sheep mask, suggesting he is a wolf in sheep's clothing.
    • The Wolf trying to convince Valerie they were the same.
    • And the fact that the first two kills (Lucie and Adrien) were the people tied to Suzette's affair.
  • Forged Message: Valerie's sister is tricked outside at night by the Wolf when it forges a letter from the boy she's in love with.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Valerie tries to get Peter's attention during the dancing and festivities by pulling her friend Prudence onto the dance floor and doing some rather suggestive moves with her.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Some of the deaths in the film revolve around this trope.
  • Grimmification: Although the original tale had plenty of Nightmare Fuel, this version has a much higher body count and the Big Bad Wolf terrorizing an entire village, where anyone could be the werewolf.
  • Happily Ever After: Valerie and Peter during the end credits.
  • He Knows Too Much: Why Cesaire killed Grandmother. As his mother knew the scent of a werewolf was familiar to her, she immediately went home and smelled the scent on Cesaire's late father's clothing and put the pieces together.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Father Auguste is murdered by Solomon when he tries to stop his men from killing Henry as he rescues Valerie, because he's visibly human.
  • Holy Burns Evil: When the Wolf tries to get Valerie when she's on sanctified church ground, its paw is burned.
  • Hotter and Sexier: The movie is pretty arguably a great example of this (as well as Darker and Edgier), what with all the bondage-gear pseudo-medieval clothing and rolling about in the snow.
  • Hypocrite: Valerie's mother. Remember her advice to Valerie about learning to love the person you're arranged to marry? Though this is more understandable by the end, when this resulted in her daughter and lover getting killed. She doesn't want Valerie to make her mistake.
  • I Am Spartacus: The town, after being so willing to sacrifice Valerie, suddenly pull this as Valerie relents and offers herself to the Wolf. The Wolf cannot get to her before the sun rises, and it's forced to flee. May also double as a Must Make Amends moment, as Valerie's friend initiates the defense, and she is the one who outs Valerie's secret in the first place.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Valerie, a human, is tricked into eating another human. More precisely, her grandmother's remains in a heated cauldron that is mistaken for stew.
  • Interspecies Romance: Werewolves and their normal human partners (often unbeknownst to the humans). Kind of averted since Peter is a wolf once a month.
  • Jump Scare: Twice by the Wolf. The first one happens in a mountain cave. The second one right after the end credits.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Madame Lazar tells Valerie in a patronizing manner that she's always been "the pretty one" after her sister has just been mauled to death...over her body no less.
    • After Valerie is arrested as a witch and chained up for the Wolf, her so-called friend Prudence comes up to her and states she thinks she's getting what she deserves, as she was always "too perfect". Hurt and disgusted by this, Valerie tells Prudence to leave.
    • The guards eat the food Grandmother had sent to Valerie after she is locked up and accused of being a witch.
  • Knight Templar: Father Solomon.
  • Lady in Red: Valerie's red cloak, which she wears over a blue dress.
  • Large Ham / Ham and Cheese: Gary Oldman seems to be having a lot of fun with his role as Father Solomon.
  • Little Red Fighting Hood: Valerie is not an Action Girl but she's still pretty fearless and badass.
  • Love Triangle:
    • Peter/Valerie/Henry.
    • Lucie/Henry/Valerie.
    • Cesaire/Suzette/Adrien.
  • Longing Look:
    • Valerie and Peter have plenty of these when she's arranged to marry Henry Lazar.
    • Valerie sees her mother Suzette mourning over Adrien's corpse with one of these and easily figures out that he was the man she truly loved.
  • Magic Pants: It's implied that when someone transforms into a werewolf, their clothing disappears, and reappears when they turn back into human.
  • The Middle Ages: The film takes place in the 1300s.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The whole celebration sequence, including Valerie dancing seductively with Prudence to make Peter jealous and then making out with Peter in a stable, which includes a shot of her cleavage when Peter starts undoing her corset.
  • The Needs of the Many: Father Solomon justifies everything he does (including torture and human sacrifice) through citing "the greater good".
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent:
    • Everyone in the film speaks with an American accent, except for Father Solomon and his two African guards.
    • A rare example here since Henry's actor has a British accent and you can't tell him from the rest of the Americans.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: Peter. He wears dark clothes, isolates himself from others and is one of many people in the village suspected of being The Wolf. He's not actually. Just a loner who struggles with making a financial living as a woodcutter.
  • Novelization: Sarah Blakely-Cartwright wrote a tie-in novel based on the film's screenplay, which was released two months before the film's premiere. To avoid spoiling the film, the novelization doesn't include the ending, so the book ends rather abruptly without really tying anything up conclusively. The final chapter was made available for download after the movie was released.
  • Offing the Offspring: Subverted. Cesaire killed Lucie after finding out she wasn't really his biological daughter.
  • Older Than They Look: The grandma definitely doesn't look her age.
  • Once More, with Clarity: Key scenes are shown twice at the end after everything is explained by the Wolf's true identity.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Henry, despite the fact that he should have suffered at least a punctured lung, is walking around fine and dandy the very next day, without even a courtesy dressing.
  • Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending: The three main protagonists, Valerie, Peter and Henry get the happiest endings. Valerie and Peter get to be together and Henry joins the monster hunters to find a new purpose in his life, so he's got that going for him even though he didn't get Valerie. Everyone else winds up either dead or miserable and alone.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different:
    • One can only be turned into a werewolf if they are bitten by one during the Blood Moon.
    • Only those that are in their bloodline can understand what they say. Everyone else hears only growls.
    • If someone gets lycanthropy from his parent, then as a werewolf he'll be more powerful than said parent.
  • Patricide: Valerie helps kill her own father after she learns he's the Wolf, though to be fair to her, it was in self-defense. Cesaire also commits Matricide and for far less justifiable reasons.
  • Person with the Clothing: Valerie is the titular Red Riding Hood (though she's never actually referred to as such in the film).
  • Plot-Inciting Infidelity: Suzette's affair with Henry's father Adrien is the reason why Cesaire even starts the whole murderous-rampage-kill-people-and-get-revenge-thing.
  • Previews Pulse: Its trailers use the pulse of a horn.
  • Quick Nip: Cesaire is constantly seen tipping back his flask. No one seems to care. During the celebration, he has a little too much and is found passed out next to his vomit. Only Valerie does something about it.
  • Red Herring:
    • The Wolf talks like he could be Peter, and Valerie's grandmother is really creepy. They've both got brown eyes too, which the Wolf is revealed to have.
    • Also, Madame Lazar, Prudence, Father Auguste who also have brown eyes. Ultimately, neither of them turn out to be the Wolf.
  • The Reveal: Valerie's father is the Big Bad Wolf. Werewolves run in the family.
  • Revealing Injury: After the Wolf burns its paw by stepping on consecrated ground, Valerie's on the look out for anyone with the same injury on their hand. When she sees Peter has covered his hand with a glove, she believes he's the Wolf and shanks him. Subverted in that particular case, Peter's covered hand was unrelated (though it's never explained just why he's going round with one glove on), though played straight when Valerie sees that the real Wolf has a burnt hand, confirming their identity.
  • Scenery Porn: The scenes in the woods are rather pretty and the shots of the mountains in the end are quite majestic.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: When Valerie arrives in her grandmother's house, she sees what looks like the Wolf's shadow in the curtains. It indeed was him.
  • Shoot the Dog:
    • The Captain's brother, because he had been bitten, and Father Solomon, for the same reason.
    • Arguably, the death of Cesaire, Valerie's father who was the Wolf.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The film's opening credit sequence closely resembles that of Twilight (2008) - also directed by Catherine Hardwicke.
    • To fellow folk tale Peter and the Wolf.
    • Peter resembles Edward Cullen somewhat.
    • In the celebration scene when the villagers think they've killed the Wolf, a man with a wolf mask pretends to blow over three people wearing pig masks, saying he's going to "blow their house down"...
    • As well as many Shout Outs from different versions of the fairy tale.
    • Henry Lazar's name and introduction are taken from Fiddler on the Roof.
    • Father Solomon's backstory is taken from a horror novella.
  • Sibling Triangle: Lucie was in love with Henry but he was in love with her sister Valerie and arranged to be married to her. Adding to the complication, Henry was actually Lucie's half-brother.
  • Snow Means Death: After the Wolf kills its first victim, it begins to snow. As the bodies start to pile up from there, there's lots of running around and fighting in the snow and blood being spattered over the snow.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: While being sacrificed as a witch and used as bait to lure the Wolf, Valerie's friend Prudence mocks her of this in jealousy, telling her that she always thought she was "too smart and too pretty and too perfect".
  • Spikes of Doom: The trees, and many edges of the local architecture.
  • Spotting the Thread: Used twice. The first time is a fake-out, the second time is for real... but by then you don't need the thread.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: The Wolf.
  • Surprise Incest: Valerie's sister Lucie was in love with Henry, who turned out to be her paternal half-brother. This may explain why her mother arranged a marriage between Henry and Valerie instead of her. On the other hand, Henry didn't reciprocate Lucie's affection.
  • Taking the Bullet: Or more specifically, "projectile silver stake". Henry takes a shot meant for Valerie. He survives.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Peter.
  • This Was His True Form: Father Solomon warns the townspeople that when a real werewolf is slain, its true form should be a human head. All that the townspeople had collected was simply a beheaded common grey wolf.
  • Token Romance: Averted; the romance (Valerie and Peter, Lucie and Henry, Suzette and Adrien) provides the movie with plot points.
  • Too Dumb to Live / Too Happy to Live: The villagers, who are so stubborn, they refuse to believe Father Solomon's explanations that they didn't kill the right wolf, and they celebrate their victory outside at the most inappropriate time.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The trailers seem to hint that Peter is the werewolf that's killing everyone. This happens not to be the case.
  • Überwald: But of course.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: At the celebration of The Wolf's "death", Cesaire is frequently drinking from his flask and in the next scenes, he's shown passed out on the ground next to a puddle of his own vomit.
  • Weird Moon: The Blood Moon.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Father Solomon. To the hilt.
  • Wham Line: Plenty.
    • When Valerie confronts her mother Suzette after seeing her mourning Adrien — who was her true love. She gets the answers she was not expecting.
      Valerie: It was Adrien, wasn't it? The man you loved? Lucie was in love with him [Henry]! She was a year older than me! She could've married him! Why did you insist it was me?
      Suzette: (wiping her tears) I think you know the answer to that!
      Valerie: I want you to say it.
      Suzette: (deep breath) Lucie was Henry's half-sister! Adrien was her father.
      Valerie: (looking over at where Cesaire is working with the woodcutters and hunters) Does Papa know about Lucie?
      Suzette: No. And you must swear to me that you'll never tell.
    • When Valerie asks for her Grandmother at the end.
      Valerie: Papa, what are you doing here? Where's Grandmother?
      Cesaire: I had no choice...she finally realized what I really am.
      Valerie: How could you do this?
    • When Peter survives but is revealed to have been bitten by Cesaire in the scuffle.
      Peter: Ow! He bit me.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Grandmother's shadow disappearing and Cesaire appearing in her place at Grandmother's house.
    • Cesaire removing his gloves hand to reveal a burn mark — the same burn that The Wolf got trying to cross onto holy ground earlier.
    • Peter pulling his sleeve to reveal his bite mark from Cesaire in their fight to Valerie and that he is now cursed to be a werewolf.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Father Solomon's kids. Also doubles as Fridge Horror, as they are obviously not in the church and thus safe when the wolf is on the rampage.
  • Witch Hunt: After Father Solomon arrives in Daggerhorn with his men to track down the werewolf, the hunt quickly turns into this. First, he accuses an innocent (most likely mentally disabled) boy of witchcraft (for simply using Tarot cards, along with his odd behavior) and tortures him. Then he accuses Valerie as it's revealed she can understand the werewolf, claiming this means she's a witch. He stakes her out as a human sacrifice after learning the werewolf wants her. Things only become worse from there.
  • The Witch Hunter: Father Solomon hunts down witches and werewolves. Like most examples, he will make wild accusations and liberally use torture against suspects (who are entirely innocent). However, there is a real werewolf who he tries to stop (ineffectually).
  • Wonderful Werewolf: Played with but ultimately averted in the case of Cesaire who for years has spared the village in exchange for them sacrificing livestock each full moon, however, has also been murdering people in the city and then begins a rampage through the village after discovering his wife had an affair and kills many innocent people. Played straight in the case of Peter after he gets bitten by Cesaire during the blood moon. He leaves promising Valerie he will return once he has learned to control his wolf-side so he will not be a threat to her or others, at the end he returns to Valerie as a werewolf, fully in control of himself.
  • Working-Class Werewolves: The Wolf is revealed to be Cesaire, a poor peasant who intends to leave town with his daughter Valerie to seek out a better life (after making her a werewolf too of course). In the end, Cesaire bites Valerie's love interest Peter, an even poorer woodcutter whom her parents are opposed to her marrying due to his lack of money and social standing, and he becomes a werewolf too.
  • You Can Talk?: Valerie has this reaction when the Wolf starts talking to her.
    Valerie: Oh my god! You can speak!