Valerie: I’m not afraid. I simply have no interest in talking nonsense.
Filmed in British Columbia, “Red Riding Hood” opens on stunning aerial shots gliding through grand mountains, surrounded by thousands of fir trees, pristine lakes and feathery cloud formations. The shots distinctly reminded me of another supernatural “thriller” shot in the same location and, not coincidentally, by the same director. The director in question is Catherine Hardwicke and “Red Riding Hood” is her first film since she initiated the “Twilight” series. The opening gave me reason for concern; I had no interest in reliving that tedious vampire series after all. Unfortunately, Hardwicke had other plans.
By the time we are introduced to little red, Miss “What big eyes you have?” herself, Amanda Seyfried, it is pretty clear that this attempt to recount the classic folk tale about a little girl in a red cape and the big, bad wolf waiting to devour her in the forest, is going to amount to nothing more than adolescent angst disguised as epic filmmaking. Seyfried’s mountain town is being terrorized by a werewolf but more importantly, Seyfried is being pawned off in marriage to one guy (Max Irons) while her heart belongs to another (Shiloh Fernandez). The sets, cinematography and score do their best to fill in the terribly thin premise but it isn’t enough to make us forget that Hardwicke has just made another other worldly love triangle tailored to a very specific demographic.
Pandering to a teenage audience is what ultimately takes all of the bite out of “Red Riding Hood”. By trying very hard to recapture that same desperate love at all costs tone the “Twilight” series relies so heavily on, Hardwicke undermines the intensity of the more horrific story elements she has at her disposal. Seyfried is torn and to make matters worse, one of her suitors might actually be the wolf. Fortunately for her, loving the beast is fully acceptable behaviour for young girls these days. At least in the movies, it is.
Review by Joseph Bélanger