Review: RED RIDING HOOD (2011) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Review: RED RIDING HOOD (2011)


On paper, director Catherine Hardwicke and screenwriter David Leslie Johnson's reimagining of enduring classic tale Little Red Riding Hood retooled as TWILIGHT-like undertones in which star-crossed teenage lovers caught in the middle of thick situations with a dash of whodunit and Gothic horror setting, does sounds like fun. But RED RIDING HOOD is a colossal misfire -- a movie that fails miserably to accomplish its individual goals as romance, horror and a folktale mystery.

Set in a medieval period at a small village of Daggerhorn, we first learn how little Valerie (Megan Charpentier) and Peter (Dj Greenburg) become childhood friends. When they grow up, Valerie (now played by Amanda Seyfried) is so in love with Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) that she'll do anything to be with him. But the problem is, Valerie is tied to an arranged marriage with handsome blacksmith Henry (Max Irons) which she has no romantic affection with him at all. And so Valerie plans to run away with Peter, only to be interrupted when her elder sister is killed by a werewolf. For generations, the villagers in Daggerhorn have been plagued in fear by the constant threat of the werewolf.

Tired of all the vicious killings for too long, the villagers decide to form a posse to locate and hunt down the werewolf once and for all. Their search-and-hunt takes them deep inside the cave, and despite human casualty ensues, they manage to kill the werewolf and bring back the head. Everybody is very happy that they finally kill the werewolf until the arrival of Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), a famed beast hunter claims it's not the beast that terrorized their village all along. But nobody seems to take a word from him, despite Solomon's serious warning about the werewolf's eventual arrival during the night of the blood moon. He also suspects that there might be werewolf amongst them in disguise, and to make things worst, Valerie seems to have some kind of bond with the beast as well. The biggest question is: who is the werewolf amongst the villagers there?

Such premise is actually exciting if the filmmakers know how to execute their setup well. Unfortunately Hardwicke's direction is surprisingly lifeless, especially how she fails to develop the teenage angst and romantic backlash between Valerie, Peter and Henry. The emotions are so detached we never come to care what makes them such passionately in love for each other in the first place. It doesn't help either when the suspense are thrill-free, while the whodunit mystery is all full of red herrings minus little sense of intriguing manners.

Not surprisingly, it's a huge waste of talents to see the actors here reduced into strict caricatures. Amanda Seyfried may have the vibrant look and angelic face with her trademark doe eyes to portray a sweetly innocent girl with corrupted heart, but her performance is mainly consists of looking vague and all blank stare. Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons are handsome to look at, but lack of intensity they needed so much to make their characters all the more worthwhile. As for the veterans, Gary Oldman does provide some fire into his typically over-the-top performance but his character is largely underwritten. Same goes to Julie Christie and Virginia Madsen, who have their share of moments but not nearly enough to raise their underwritten characters a notch above.

Still the movie remains quite a visual treat. With Vancouver serves as a backdrop for this dark fairytale, Hardwicke and production designer Tom Sanders create some ethereal quality into the medieval setting with lush colors and sweeping shots of the snow-covered mountain tops. Too bad the same cannot be said with its incoherent action sequences with awful CG werewolf effects and poor editing by Nancy Richardson.

Overall, RED RIDING HOOD is really a chore to sit through especially the movie is particularly slow-paced and feels so patchy in places. This is really hard to believe the once-promising director who made THIRTEEN (2003), LORDS OF DOGTOWN (2005) and to lesser extent, TWILIGHT (2008) can end up so clueless here.

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