Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Review: "Red Riding Hood" is Contrived and Not Scary

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 70 (of 2011) by Leroy Douresseaux

Red Riding Hood (2011)
Running time: 100 minutes (1 hour, 40 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for violence and creature terror, and some sensuality
DIRECTOR: Catherine Hardwicke
WRITER: David Leslie Johnson
PRODUCERS: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Davisson Killoran, Alex Mace, and Julie Yorn
EDITORS: Nancy Richardson and Julia Wong
COMPOSERS: Alex Heffes and Brian Reitzell


Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons, Virginia Madsen, Lukas Haas, Julie Christie, Adrian Holmes, and Archie Rice (voice)

Red Riding Hood is a 2011 film that belongs to several genres: Gothic horror, romance, and mystery. Catherine Hardwicke, who directed the first Twilight film, turned down directing the sequel (Twilight Saga: New Moon), and went on to direct Red Riding Hood, which is obviously meant to appeal to Twilight fans. This movie isn’t anywhere in the same league as Twilight.

Taking place some indeterminate centuries in the past, Red Riding Hood is set in the small village of Daggerhorn, which is situated on the edge of a haunted black forest. The story focuses on the lovely young Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), who as a child developed an affinity for hunting, sneaking out, and doing things boys do. Valerie also fell in love with Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), a young hunter, and wishes to marry him. Valerie’s mother, Suzette (Virginia Madsen), and father, Cesaire (Billy Burke), want her to marry Henry Lazar (Max Irons), a young blacksmith from a wealthy family.

For years, a werewolf has plagued Daggerhorn and, as the story begins, the beast murders Valerie’s older sister, Lucie (Alexandria Maillot). The village has summoned Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), a priest experienced in hunting werewolves. Shortly after Solomon arrives, the werewolf attacks again, so Solomon and his guards use the disaster as pretense to take control of the village. Solomon points his accusing finger at Valerie, who seems connected to werewolf, but as the death toll rises, perhaps, only the accused can save Daggerhorn.

When I first heard about Red Riding Hood going into production, I figured that Warner Bros. Pictures was trying to capitalize on the success Walt Disney Pictures had with its 2010 worldwide monster hit, Alice in Wonderland (directed by Tim Burton), by doing their own fairy tale thing. When I heard that Catherine Hardwicke was directing this film, I thought, “Throw in the Twilight demographic.”

As I wrote earlier, Red Riding Hood is no Twilight, and it is even more preposterous than Alice in Wonderland. Actually, here and there, this film has a few brilliant ideas – visually, at least (having Black men as some of Solomon’s guards, Valerie’s startling red robe, among them). For the most part, however, the rest of the film feels contrived, overdone, phony, etc. It seems like a pretentious project put together by a high school creative writing class. The score and soundtrack are fantastic and practically saves any sense of drama, mystery, and horror that Red Riding Hood has.

4 of 10

Friday, August 12, 2011


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