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Red Riding Hood (2011) Film Review
Wonderfully directed by Catherine Hardwicke, this horror film has the perfect atmosphere to keep you on the edge of your seat. It is ripe with the drama of forbidden love, paranormal horror, and the every day dramas that are a part of every family in time immemorial.
Amanda Seyfried plays Valerie, a young girl from a small medieval town called Daggerhorn. She has fallen in love with a poor man from the same medieval village, but she is technically not allowed to see him. Peter (played by Shiloh Fernandez) is a lowly woodcutter, and Valerie's parents are not in the least pleased with her choice of actions.
Amanda Seyfried talks Red Riding Hood in this Interview
Caesar and Suzette are not only displeased by Peter's lack of money and status, but they are also displeased with the fact that Valerie has been sneaking away to see him against their wishes. Caesar and Suzette instead want Valerie to marry (and have in fact promised her to) a wealthy blacksmith's son.
Henry, played by Max Irons, is good looking enough, but Valerie is not interested. More importantly, she is not in love with him as she is with Peter.
It is apparent early on in the film that there have been attacks. Believing it to be the work of a wolf possessed by the devil, the townspeople literally gather with pitchforks and go hunting. They return at dawn with a wolf's head atop a stake, but not before the audience glimpses the real threat as the werewolf takes down one of the townsmen in one quick stroke.
Just as the town starts to celebrate the death of the wolf menace, Father Solomon (played by the gorgeously dashing Gary Oldman) shows up and kills the mood--almost literally. He laughs in the townspeople's faces and lets them know what he thinks about their supposed victory.
After many denials, Father Solomon simply leaves them to their stubborn fates. During the celebrations, Father Solomon is proven correct. The real werewolf appears and kills many before confronting and attempting to steal away Valerie. In fact, Valerie finds she can speak to the wolf, and though he asks, she refuses to run away with him.
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As the plot progresses, hints suggest that either Peter or Adrian could be the Big Bad Wolf, as well as Valerie's grandmother. Bet you didn't see that one coming. The film is so full of Hollywood stereotypes, I found myself rolling my eyes at the cliched lines about "doing this for the greater good", the forbidden love subplot, the insinuations against the grandmother, and a girl's accusation that Valerie is a witch, plus countless more. Fortunately for the film, Hardwicke directs the film with such a flawless atmosphere, and the actors know what they are doing.
While this loose representation of the fable Little Red Riding Hood is interesting and worth a watch so as to form individual opinions, I expected much more than the cliches that were presented. The PG 13 rating (despite the horror genre) usually suggests that the movie is focused at both teens and adults. However, the cheesy writing and romantic angst shows that the film really is meant for young teens. I give it a 3 out of a 5 rating.
Red Riding Hood Trailer
© 2011 Jennifer Kessner