Review: RED RIDING HOOD - Should Ride Off And Never Return

rating: 1

When the director of 'Twilight' has been brought in to make a film about werewolves, you know roughly what you're going to get: a young girl torn by loyalty to several lovers (one or more of whom may be some sort of beast), and angst ridden at the inability of her community to cope with the abomination in their midst. Amanda Seyfried plays Valerie, the girl who occasionally dons the iconic riding hood, and her biggest concern is that there's a werewolf in her community. One that has just killed her sister. As if that isn't enough, her parents are set to force her to marry Henry Lazar (Max 'son of Jeremy' Irons), son of a wealthy local family. This is especially angst-inducing because Valerie has long been in love with childhood friend and salt-of-the-earth woodcutter Peter (Shiloh Fernandez). Exploding onto the scene is mental werewolf hunter Father Soloman (Gary Oldman), who warns the community that the blood moon means that anyone bitten by the wolf will turn into one of its kind. And so they lock down the village and search for the horror in their midst, with the help of a team of mercenaries, an elephant-shaped torture device and bucket full of suspicion. Sadly, the film instantly loses credibility by the gallon thanks to its Sylvanian Families grade sets that look like they were bought from a fire sale at a bankrupt amusement park. Equally jarring are the ridiculous costumes that are more suited to pantomime plays than a harsh winter in a woodland. Still, once that distraction subsided, at least there was a thrilling whodunit to solve... or was there? The script refuses to ever artfully reveal the family secrets and mysterious goings on, and instead makes enormous declarations of obvious red herrings and has actors shoot suspicious, squinty-eyed glances left, right and centre. It's appalling direction from Catherine Hardwicke, and it's really not helped by wooden performances by the hunky male leads who are more focussed on looking 'deep' and 'tortured' for the tweens than on bringing any character or charisma to the roles. Amanda Seyfried is similarly pouty for the boys, and brings a small slice of sensuality to the romantic side of the story. She even manages some credible emoting during the revelations of the murky family secrets held, unsurprisingly, by her Grandmother (Julie Christie). This element of the story is far too short-lived given the importance in holds both to the adaptation from the fairytale, the superior skills of the actors involved, and the dramatic potential for the werewolf hunt. Instead we're forced to focus on the shoddy romance with the plastic boys in their plastic hometown. Gary Oldman fares a bit better than his fellow male cast thanks to his long experience in bringing the crazy to even the most mediocre of fare, but it's a small ray of light in an otherwise bleak landscape of 'Twilight' imitation, dire detective work and hackneyed references to the original Brothers' Grimm fairytale. Even fans of 'Twilight' will be disappointed by this pale imitation, and anyone who didn't like that franchise shouldn't touch this with a 10-foot silver spear. Red Riding Hood was released in the U.K. today.

Michael J Edwards hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.