I originally had my apprehension about this title when it was first announced, but my fears were quickly subdued when I found out that Amanda Seyfried and Gary Oldman’s names were attached to this project. Gary Oldman goes without saying, but my love for Seyfried is brand new and unfamiliar to me. It’s time to explore that. LOL. My earliest memories of Amanda are from 2008′s Mama Mia. Although at the time I was not a fan of either her or the film, I quickly learned to like her in 2009′s soon-to-be cult classic, Jennifer’s Body. But honestly, it wasn’t until her breakout performance (IMO) in Chloe that I really took notice of her. And I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that she was naked a lot in it. So anyway, I guess you can say that I was really looking forward to “checking her out” in Red Riding Hood, despite the film’s weak PG-13 rating. Boo!
Red Riding Hood is billed as an American horror film. I’m not entirely sure I agree with that billing. I see it more as a dark fantasy film, but that’s just me. The feature is directed by Catherine Hardwick and surprise surprise, it’s produced by none other than Mr. Leonardo DiCaprio. And much to my liking, it’s written by a fellow screenwriter whom I have much respect for, David Leslie Johnson (Orphan). There’s a whole Comic-Con 2009 story to be told here, but I will spare you. Supposedly the script is derived from three main sources: the folk tale Little Red Riding Hood by both Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm and from Bruno Bettelheim’s book, Uses of Enchantment. Now that we got all the non-fun stuff out of the way, let’s talk about the movie!
The movie takes place in the medieval village of Daggerhorn. A young woman, Valerie (Seyfried), is preparing to run away with her boyfriend, Peter (Shiloh Ferandez), in order to avoid an arranged marriage with Henry Lazar (Max Irons). Isn’t young love so cute? However, all plans come to a screeching halt when Valerie’s older sister is found slaughtered by a familiar werewolf that has been terrorizing the village for years. I hate it when that happens! I think it’s been something like 20 years since the werewolf has touched a human. Instead, it always seemed to be happy with the monthly livestock offerings the village provided. So what the heck changed all the sudden? Well, that’s really the meat and potatoes of the story and where the Witchfinder General, Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), enters.
Perhaps I should rewind just a bit. After the death of Valerie’s sister, the majority of the townsmen go werewolf hunting and believe they have killed the beast, but Father Solomon urges them not to prematurely celebrate. Do they listen to him? Of course not! If they had, that would make for a dull movie wouldn’t it? So eventually the big bad wolf makes its presence known by frequently killing more innocent people and eventually learn of a secret ability that Valerie possesses. She seems to have the innate ability to telepathically communicate with the Lycan beast. Wow! Isn’t she so lucky? Tell me you would not be thrilled to possess that wonderful quality. I can see it now…Brian White the Wolf Whisperer. It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
So here’s what’s up. I liked the film. I really did. It probably won’t make my Top 10 list this year, but like Jennifer’s Body, it had just the right mix of violence and quirkiness to sustain my short attention span. The acting was wooden at moments, but when you have subject matter as ridiculous as this, can you ever guarantee 100% authentic performances? I don’t think so. I would even go as far to say that it had some Twilight qualities to it, but that’s stretching it even for me. It’s a modern day look at a fairy tale known to all with a twist of gothic as I like to call. And it’s also a love story, hence the Twilight comparison. And I guess I can always bring home the Twilight comparison with the fact that the film is also helmed by the same Director of Twilight here. How’s that making a point? But anyway, what I like the most about it is the who did it approach the film takes on. Was it Peter? Is it Henry? How about grandma? Who’s the big bad wolf? You’re left guessing until the very end. I like that!
So here’s the question that’s always difficult to answer depending on a person’s personal tastes. Is it worth you running to the theaters for? That’s a tough call. I heard some critics talking negative about the film as I was exiting the press screening and others saying it was okay. So if you want my advice, here it is. Save your money on opening night and check out a matinee of it during the weekend. This way I can recommend it to you and save you dough at the same time. See how nice I am? And what about that Amanda Seyfried?! How does she manage to get more beautiful each time I see her? Amazing!