Movie Review: Red Riding Hood (2011)
If the thought of theatrically adapting the famous fairy tale isn't enough to incite giggles, the recitation of the line Grandmother, what big teeth you have will certainly do the job. Little about the film doesn't warrant laughter; the revealing of the red cape, the repetitious jump-scares with the grandmother casting wolf shadows and other bits of details from the source material thrown in for those who forgot what the movie is based on, and the overwhelming feeling that this is a lesser known chapter from the Twilight Saga. All are reasons to dismiss this ridiculous fantasy. Even the dead bodies smirk. Director Catherine Hardwicke, who helmed the first Twilight movie, certainly isn't trying to hide her excessive fascination with werewolves, teenage relationships, love triangles and shirtless hunks.
For twenty years, the tiny, isolated, mountain village of Daggerhorn has kept the peace with a bloodthirsty werewolf by sacrificing the best livestock and the cutest pink piglets. Blonde-haired, red-cloaked Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) hasn't thought too much about it during her childhood, instead concentrating on keeping a secretive relationship with brown-eyed woodcutter Peter (Shiloh Fernandez). Thanks to an arranged marriage with wealthier blacksmith Henry (Max Irons), Valerie is doomed to break away from her true love.
When Valerie's sister is found slashed to death by the werewolf, a party of vengeful villagers goes in search of it. They kill a common gray wolf and believe they've dispatched the menace for good, but legendary monster killer Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) arrives just in time to prove them wrong. His is a deliciously evil role, an unhinged character that Oldman plays often and quite entertainingly, quick to persecute, invade privacy and harm without mercy. It's a Van Helsing of sorts, fused with the maniacal methods of a preacher intent on forcing others to don his beliefs via physical violence, complete with wild-eyed horror stories and a giant metal elephant of torture.
Valerie is eventually confronted by the wolf and realizes that it is someone in the village with a special connection to her. In an effort to keep the viewer guessing, a few gaping plot holes are developed and red herrings thrown in, which creates a mystery unworthy of solving. The greatest accomplishment is for the actors who can deliver their execrable lines without bursting into laughter. Unintentionally, the audience will surely bust up at the climax, everything the grandmother does (Julie Christie must have really needed a paycheck), and the difficulty with which the actors try to take things seriously. Now how long do we have to wait for the live-action feature film of Goldilocks and the Three Bears?