Red Riding Hood (Catherine Hardwicke, 2011): USA

Reviewed by Kyle Calbreath. Viewed at Fairview Twin theater, Goleta, CA.

My what big ears you have. My what big eyes you have. My what big teeth you have. Everyone knows the story of little red riding hood and the stalker wolf. A gruesome tale of deception and intrigue meant for small children read to them by sadistic parents and teachers.

With the film Red Riding Hood, directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight), we are given an update of the fairy tale. This time it stars a sexy Amanda Seyfried as the blonde, but not so little, Red Riding Hood.

I took my grandparents and my father to see this film on a Monday afternoon. Matinee pricing, very few movie goers on a hot day made for a great little relaxer in the dark. I initially wanted to see the movie at 1 p.m. but read the schedule wrong. We had to wait till 3 p.m. Thus we walked down and got some frozen yogurt at one of those do it yourself deals and then went and got my sisters car out of the shop.

With every ones recent obsession with monster movies, especially Vampires, this take on the children’s story book classic follows a frightened and sheltered forest town that shutters there homes every full moon due to the werewolf that hunts the surrounding woods. Only to discover later that wolf lives not in within the darkness of the tress but right in the very village they reside.

The movie featured many of the same elements that Twilight had. Wide expansive shots of lush evergreen forests, a meek yet heroic female lead, a pair of dueling, hot young, male newcomers to costar and a rock symphony soundtrack seem to be some of Hardwicke’s trademarks. This movie was to say the least, safe. It could have been darker and sexier. It could have been stylishly bloody. It could have been scary. But alas Hardwicke seems to be a scardy cat director tip-toeing to satisfy the general public and the wolves of executive Hollywood. This could have been a film Tim Burton could have gloriously done before he sold out to do 3D.

Oh and not to mention, you never see the wolf transform. Not even in the end. A must in all great werewolf films, but this was not a great film, so no horrific transformation.

I will say that the script, written by David Johnson, has excellent misdirection going on in it. You never guess till the end that the Wolf is who he/she actually is. At least I didn’t and I don’t think my family did either. I was almost certain it was one of two obvious characters, but nope.

The costume design of Cindy Evans, again, could have been full of fairytale whimsy. But it came off looking a little more David the Gnome than Hood Haute Couture. Not to take on thinking I could ever handle a needle and thread but this could have been a movie set full of style and fashion. Even the red cloak Red Riding Hood was given to wear by her grandma, played by Julie Christie, looked like someone ripped up a burlap sack, a used one, dyed it red and threw it on her as is and called it beautiful.

By the time the credits rolled I was set to go. Ready to have been eaten alive by such big teeth but it never happened. Nothing that exciting actually happened while in the theater. But my family said they were entertained by the big bad wolf and that’s what mattered that day.






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