Red Riding Hood
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In a medieval village a beautiful young girl falls for an orphaned woodcutter, much to her family's displeasure. When her sister is killed by the werewolf that prowls the dark forest surrounding their village, the people call on a famed werewolf hunter to help them kill the wolf. As the death toll rises with each moon, the girl begins to suspect that the werewolf could be someone she loves. Panic grips the town as she discovers that she has a unique connection to the beast--one that inexorably draws them together, making her both suspect...and bait.
This is not your grandmother's Red Riding Hood. There's a basket of goodies (not exactly the edible kind), a sweet grandma, a winsome young lass in a beautiful red hood, and a Big Bad Wolf. But there the similarity ends. This Red Riding Hood is shot through the lens of the Twilight films--for wide appeal to the tween and teen audiences, and definitely not a bedtime story for the little ones. Helmed by Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke, Red Riding Hood bears a lot of the moody trademarks of the vampire series. Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), the plucky girl in the stunning cape, lives in a tiny medieval village whose geography is not specified--it's just very mountainous and remote. Valerie's heart belongs to her childhood friend Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), but as Red Riding Hood opens, she learns she has been betrothed to Henry (Max Irons). As if that love triangle weren't enough, it seems a dangerous wolf--or is it werewolf?--has been terrorizing the town for years, and its killing sprees have intensified. When the townsfolk kill a wolf, they think they have finally freed their town from tyranny, and throw a giant bacchanal--like Burning Man in the snow. But then Father Solomon (Gary Oldman, in wickedly good form) appears on the scene to tell the villagers they've killed only a gray wolf--not, in fact, the werewolf he knows is the true villain.
So the romantic pulls of Valerie, Peter, and Henry play out with a backdrop of true chills and mystery. The atmosphere created by Hardwicke, along with production designer Thomas E. Sanders and cinematographer Mandy Walker, is perfect for a goose-bumpy horror story with teen hearts caught in the balance. The set design of the village, especially, is rich with detail--even the trees in the surrounding forest seem to have branches made of threatening spikes. Seyfried is willful, passionate, and perfect as Valerie, and easily anchors a film that could have spun out. Other standouts include Virginia Madsen, Valerie's mother who has a dark secret in her own past, and Julie Christie as Valerie's rather peculiar grandmother. All Twilight fans, and those who love a good tale of star-crossed (or perhaps full-moon-crossed) lovers will enjoy Red Riding Hood. Just don't go walking in those big bad woods alone. --A.T. Hurley
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Top customer reviews
I felt transported from beginning to end. I think that to assume it was trying to be a contemporary horror film, an adult film a la Twilight, or anything other than it is, is a mistake; it is intentionally simple as a story (with a neat twist), not because the filmmakers are catering to a pubescent audience, but because they wanted to retain the basic feel of a fairy tale, despite adult overtones in theme. As a piece of film art, it is brave and never less than interesting. The filmmakers understand the magic of a fairy tale at its core: the charm of the story is that the romance is sweet and simple, while the wolf is a symbol of terror; the juxtaposition is what creates the fairy tale flavor - it's what kept us listening wide-eyed as kids. I think this was a grand experiment. As a professional novelist, I appreciate innovation and daring, and I think that is what was present here.
Someone else commented that the adult themes were closer to the foundation of the original tale. I actually wrote a paper at university about the metaphorical meanings, historically speaking, in common fairy tales. People in earlier centuries looked for and more readily understood, metaphors in morality tales, while in the modern era we are conditioned to read things as literal. Red Riding Hood is traditionally a metaphor for the dangers of rape. Young girls wandering too far from home (the woods - where anything can be lurking, including men), encountering strangers. Disobedience, nonconformity, and independence in young women leading to disaster. It was originally intended as a warning tale. ("Red" symbolizes lust, daring, independence, and evil, as well as blood.)
- Both male leads. I refer to them as Donnie Brasco and Elvis.
- The dialogue was sometimes fair, occasionally good, but usually corny. In one scene, Donnie Brasco steps up and says "We can't give her to the wolf. That's human sacrifice." Yes, thank you, Captian Obvious. But I really don't think 17th century villagers being picked off by a werewolf with a grudge did much stepping onto the 21st century politically correct soapbox. Instances such as that, and the classic referral to the other villagers "judging" her, made me feel like I was in high school again.
- The stupidities, such as running water flowing from a well in the dead of winter, and pretty boys/girls flouncing about with naked arms and collars open halfway to their naval in the same weather.
- The overall theme. While the ending was satisfying, it was also redundant. (!!!Minor Spoilers Ahoy!!!) Valerie kills one werewolf only to hook up with another. And who that first werewolf was makes me lament for the priorities of your average teenager.
- The mystery element, which was not overly obvious and did keep the viewer suspicious of everyone and constantly doubting their own conclusions.
- Very well paced. The storyline flowed, and every scene was important to the plot.
- It wasn't a traditional horror movie, but the stunning visuals, which were mostly not comprised of computer imagery, only contributed to the creepy atmosphere. It was eerie, and something of a light thriller/mystery with werewolf lore thrown in.
- The werewolf. After watching practically every werewolf movie under the sun, and ALWAYS being disappointed, this, in all honesty, was the lycanthrope I have been waiting all these years to see. I don't want to spoil it by giving too much away, but it was wolflike without too closely resembling a normal wolf, though not overdone with the CGI. It was actually frightening for its believability factor.
So, if you're like me and are constantly on the prowl for a good late night werewolf flick to sink your teeth into (apologies for the puns), this is certainly not great cinema, but was very entertaining and definitely worth a watch.
Most recent customer reviews
It was so boring and unoriginal.
Don't watch it.
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