‘Red Riding Hood’ doesn’t do much of anything for anyone except ‘Twilight’ fans
Let’s just cut to the heart of this movie: “Red Riding Hood” is “Twilight” without vampires. It was directed by “Twilight’s” director, and stars some of its actors. It even has werewolves and sweeping aerial shots of mountains. And while there is nothing wrong with that if you enjoy “Twilight” (which millions of movie-going fans do), but it needs to be said regardless. Moving on…
“Red Riding Hood,” directed by Catherine Hardwicke (“Twilight”), takes the centuries-old tale of a little girl on her way to Grandma’s house and adds some modern-day angst and sexuality. The basic plot remains the same: Little Red Riding Hood, named Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), lives in a little village at the edge of a dark, sinister forest. As legend dictates, a killer, mythical wolf leaves in the woods nearby and kills every full moon unless a sacrifice of livestock is offered. For 20 years, this offering has kept the peace. However, all good things must come to an end, and the wolf kills Valerie’s little sister. This is where Hardwicke adds her twist: Instead of going to Grandmother’s house, Valerie seeks comfort by visiting her friend/love interest, Peter (Shiloh Fernandez, “Red”). But to add some drama to the mix, it seems Valerie already has been bequeathed to another local boy, Henry (Max Irons, “Dorian Gray”). He also happens to be wealthy, which is why her parents have arranged the marriage. Not surprisingly, Valerie doesn’t want this for herself. But before this subplot can continue, the wolf enters the fray. From here on out, the quest to discover the wolf’s true identity takes center stage, with the budding romance triangle between Valerie, Peter and Henry unfolding with it.
There’s not a lot of suspense in this movie, but each actor plays his or her part fairly well. Billy Burke (who also played the father figure in “Twilight”), who plays Valerie’s father, captures the mood with his drunken antics after his youngest daughter dies by the wolf’s claws. Her mother, played by Virginia Madsen (“The Haunting in Connecticut”) also does well. The three leads, however, just seem to look pretty and take up screen time. But it’s hard to justify doing anything else when the plot is so straightforward. But hey, they look damn good. Seriously, Seyfried just has this ethereal beauty to her. It’s really quite striking.
All in all, “Red Riding Hood” will invoke strong correlations to “Twilight,” but I’m not sure that was a mistake. And it will probably do the movie well to have so many ties to the megablockbuster. But would it have killed Hardwicke to show a little ingenuity? Next time, no werewolves, OK?
Two red-splashed stars out of five.