With slim pickings at the local box office this past week, there was only one film that evinced any semblance of fantasy, and that was Red Riding Hood.
Helmed by Catherine Hardwicke, the director of the alternately acclaimed and reviled Twilight Saga, Red Riding Hood casts Amanda Seyfried (who isn’t actually half bad) in the role of Valerie, a spunky lass in the mountain village of Daggerhorn.
She’s in love with a lumberjack, Peter (played by Edward Cullen hopeful Shiloh Fernandez), but her parents have already betrothed her to Henry, the son of the town smith.
As if the cliched love triangle isn’t enough, we get a whiff of the supernatural – there’s a big, bad wolf on the loose, and it’s no longer capable of being placated by the animal sacrifices.
Valerie’s sister Lucy is the wolf’s latest victim, and as the village fields an angry mob (armed with axes, pitchforks and torches no less) to hunt the wolf, we discover that there is more to Red Riding Hoods tale than meets the eye.
Ultimately, Father Solomon, a famed witch hunter is called in, and Red Riding Hood turns from Heidi in the Alps into The Crucible, before climaxing with a classic Star Wars moment.
Hardwicke’s directorial efforts didn’t impress me. There was little to differentiate Red Riding Hoods treatment and execution from Twilight, and rather than being anything like a dark fantasy, Red Riding Hood turned out to be little more than another teenage romance with supernatural elements.
There was some attempt at unifying the mise en scène, and while Daggerhorn looked the part of a dreary, landlocked alpine village stuck in the middle of a perpetual winter, the whole snow thing started getting old after the first 30 minutes.
I’m quite certain the sole reason for it was just so Valerie’s red cloak could paint a pretty picture against a pristine backdrop, but considering Hardwicke’s credentials, I’d have expected something better. And while we’re on about that, let’s not forget how the boys’ costumes are color coordinated – Henry’s dressed in brown, while Jacob, I mean Peter, is dressed in black. Obvious, much?
The film’s saving grace was probably Gary Oldman, who played a pretty convincing cleric – he radiated smarm and self-righteous indignation, and his stellar performance put the relatively young cast to shame. Despite only a dozen or so scenes worth of screen time, it was good ol’ Gary who almost saved the show (though Seyfried’s intensity came in a close second).
Sadly, though, it wasn’t quite enough.
Watch only if you’re a Twilight fan, a desperate teenager with delusions of being spirited away by a furry, or a mix of the two. It’s a bore otherwise.