In the original story of Little Red Riding Hood the Big Bad Wolf swallows the grandmother and the little girl whole, a gruesome, albeit impossible, ordeal to go through. However, this level of gruesomeness does not compare to sitting through Red Riding Hood, a loose film adaptation of this classic story that has forever tainted my childhood memories of hearing this tale. Let’s just say that I’d rather be swallowed alive than see this again…
In this adaptation Little Red Riding Hood isn’t so little anymore, after all that would make for one creepy romance scenario. Instead we follow a girl named Valerie who lives in a small village within a forested region who just so happens to have a red hooded cape. And then there’s the wolf, or in this case a werewolf that keeps the village living in fear. When they realize that the werewolf could be living among them in human form, everyone becomes a suspect.
For what it’s worth the story sounds like it has some potential in there. Werewolves are awesome when done right, and clearly the original source of inspiration has survived the test of time by being BA. Unfortunately this potential is completely decimated in this film, starting with the obvious comparison to a little well-known film called Twilight. Now I will give this film the benefit of the doubt by not saying that it is trying to ride Twilight’s coattails to stealing the souls and money of tween girls everywhere just looking to be wooed by hunky supernatural beings… I won’t say it, but I’ll think it. Let’s face it, with the supernatural story, possible love triangle, and Catherine Hardwicke at the helm it’s warranted. And then the movie begins, opening up over a forested hilly region with trees perfect for Edward to climb with his little spider monkey clutched tightly to his back. Heck, even Bella’s dad got confused and wandered into the wrong movie…
Point being, whether or not this film’s purpose is solely to cheat its way to glory or it was just cursed with a horribly uncreative team across the board, in the end it painfully fails in almost every way. So when everything makes me cringe I guess the best place to start is the script. To get right to it I would have to say that the script has put forth some of the cheesiest, most terrible, repetitive dialog I have ever had to sit through, blessing us with such gems as the forced “what big eyes you have” keeper and the swoon-worthy “I could just eat you up.” At least I think I was supposed to swoon, but I was far to busy holding down the contents of my stomach when my gag reflex violently revolted to sitting through such spoken atrocities.
Which brings us to the acting. For this one it is really hard for me to say anything against the actors other than maybe they should become a little pickier on the projects they choose. From past work I know that at least a few of the actors like Amanda Seyfried and Gary Oldman can produce much better performances than what they give here, and since most others I don’t know too well I think it would be a disservice to judge them in this because with what they were given it would take a miracle to come out of this looking like a star.
And to think, somehow it manages to get worse. With how painful it is to pay attention to the actors it is almost impossible to get involved in the mystery unfolding on screen. After all, everyone is a suspect. And I mean everyone. Just in case you forget this once a certain characteristic is revealed about the person who is the wolf, every suspicious glance between Seyfried and the other actors focuses on that characteristic, revealing that every single person in this stupid town has that characteristic. Sure, the inability to weed out suspects past those who have been killed should make the tension grow, but at this point it’s hard to care.
That’s right, I did just say people get killed in this film. At last! A silver lining! I will say that with all the complaining I can do about this, the one saving grace is that the few action bits with the wolf aren’t really that bad, but are actually pretty enjoyable and hint at the fact that maybe those involved do know what they are doing sometimes. For one thing they recognized that giant CGI wolves don’t always look the best on film, so the choice was made to keep the dark furred beast to the shadows when it isn’t dashing fast enough across the screen so that it is impossible to register what it looks like. Sure once we see the face the illusion of awesomeness and realism is weakened a bit, especially when a certain laughable ability is revealed to be in the beast’s repertoire, but at least for a second I got to enjoy what I was watching.
I’m sure if I really wanted I could continue to ramble about how much I hated this film. The sets looked horribly constructed and unnatural, most likely within the confines of a soundstage, and I found myself holding in bursts of anger at the choice to decorate everything, and I mean everything, with spikes. Even the branches of the trees were little nubby spikes. Just look at the poster! That’s what they look like! Maybe it’s just my theatre design background… See? Rambling. So before I start typing the different synonyms for excrement to compare Red Riding Hood to, I will just say that this is in line to be my least favorite film of the year. The end.
Final Grade: D-