You’ll Want To Return Your Little ‘Red Riding Hood’ To Grandma

While walking away from the theater, I was discussing with the person I saw this film with what genre it would be considered.  Red Riding Hood is certainly not a scary at all, nor does it have any real tension or suspense.  It is not much of a drama, because none of the performers really seemed to be effected very deeply by any of what is happening (murders, weather, etc.).  I guess I could say it was a fantasy film, as it does strive to be about a werewolf terrorizing a village, even though the wolf is a horrible computer creation.  Really, this film is just a mess. It has no identity, moving between the lines of melodramatic, campy, and serious drama/romance/horror.  This is a shame, because I can see the concept of a new twist on this old tale working in a different film; a better film.

Henry:  Just so you know, if you are the wolf, I’m going to cut your head off.

Peter:  And if you’re the wolf, I’ll do the same.

Amanda Seyfried stars as Valerie, a beautiful, young blond living in the medieval village of Daggerhorn.  While Valerie has been pining for the brooding, dark haired, wood cutter/male model, Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) for years, with plans to run away with him, her family has arranged for her to be married to the brooding, fairer haired, metal worker/male model, Henry (Max Irons).  Unfortunately, running away with Peter will have to wait, as Valerie’s sister has been murdered by the evil wolf that terrorizes the town.  With an uneasy truce seemingly in breach by the monstrous creature, some of the townspeople gather their shiniest of knives and pitchforks in an attempt to capture the beast.

Upon returning with what they believe to be the head of the evil wolf, the people rejoice, but it is not long before they realize they are still under attack.  Fortunately, a rock star wolf-catcher, in the form of Gary Oldman, shows up to help the town.  Oldman plays Father Solomon, a man experienced in ridding areas of werewolves, equipped with a team of strong men and a giant metal elephant (not kidding), and makes it very clear that this town needs to start suspecting all who live in it, as any one of them could be the wolf in question.  Solomon also points out that this is the time of the blood moon, which means that a bite from the wolf will have the extra effect of turning others into werewolves.

All of this drama does not help Valerie, as she is now torn between the two men after her heart and also worried about this whole wolf issue.  Further complications ensue, when Valerie learns that she has a unique connection to the wolf, which makes her both suspect of witchcraft and bait to draw the beast back for Solomon and his men to kill it.  At least she has her Grandmother’s (played by Julie Christie) new red hooded coat to help keep her warm.

Similar to the recent I Am Number Four, it would seem that the sole reason this film was made was in an attempt to score a big success off of the Twilight demographic.  Now I say this while also acknowledging that it is not that I have something against this notion (it would be like someone calling me out for seeing every new superhero movie), but that this film has been done so poorly.  Beyond having a lead female character caught between two guys (I am surprised that neither of the guys had a moment with their shirt off for this film), in a fantasy setting, you even have the director of the first Twilight film, Catherine Hardwicke, lending her directorial abilities over to this film.  I remember a time when Hardwicke was a promising director, given the great response to her debut film, Thirteen, but this film seems to have been delivered dead on arrival.  I felt such a great disconnect between what this film wanted to go for and what it actually accomplished.  An example being the use of modern music and the lack of medieval times accents, while sticking with a somber tone throughout.  It is simply all over the place in terms of which film it really wanted to be.

This is a terrible werewolf film, no question; once again adding to the stack of werewolf films that have turned out to be very bad.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I actually really enjoyed a movie with werewolves at this point.  Even for an attempt at PG-13 horror, this film does a terrible job at trying to scare the audience.  The “werewolf” in this film is displayed quite prominently during the course of the film, and at no point at all did it ever seem intimidating or convincing.

The actual plot of this film surrounding the werewolf is equally ridiculous.  The film tries to supply a “whodunit” framework, in order to keep you guessing and watching out for suspects and red herrings.  I found this to be akin to a film like Sleepy Hollow, which had the same sort of twist on an old story, but that film had much better scripting and much better talent, which made it a film that knew what it was doing, while this film feels more up to par with another stinker – The Village (Note: after having brought this comparison to others, some seem to have an appreciation of The Village that I was not aware of, so if that doesn’t work, cross Sleepy Hollow with a different, but still terrible film with a comparable setting).

The film does have an interesting cast.  Seyfried seems to have the ability to play adorably concerned quite well.  There is clear talent behind her beauty, so I hope it has a chance to come out in other roles.  Oldman does all he can to make things more interesting by using one of his fun accents and milking his role for all it is worth, but it is not enough to make this film rise above its very poor scripting and dialogue.  Julie Christies, similarly to Oldman, does all she can to seem interesting in such a bland film, but at least gets to be involved in the iconic scene of the story.

Initially, a lot of my intrigue for this film came from what I thought was some evocative imagery stemming from the use of a bright red hooded outfit in the middle of a very snowy setting.  Mixed with a soundtrack by Brian Reitzell that I found to be equally intriguing, I only wish that the film’s imagery could have matched up to what little positive response I had for a trailer.  Instead, the film’s village setting feels very much like a stage that has had several prop buildings made and dressed up to appear more wintery.  Throughout the film, it seemed very apparent that these characters were quite cramped in a small setting and never really affected by the snowy weather.  I like to grasp onto production design and visual style quite a bit when it comes to films that I know are capable of showing off such things, even if nothing much else comes from it, but that was not the case here.  The film simply looks cheap, banking on its Twilight similarities to make it a hit with the fans.

If there is something to glean from all of this, it is that I do not necessarily think this film is a failure, more of a mixed disaster.  The tone of this film is all screwed up.  It would like to be a fantasy drama with notions towards the spirit of a dark fairy tale.  Instead, the film is dull, mixed with a couple over-the-top performances, many more wooden performances, poor effects work, and an especially bad handle on putting together good dialogue.  It does not quite reach the “bad turns to funny” levels of quality, but a few more “out of left field” moments and maybe an extended brawl at Grandma’s house and it certainly could have had me feeling a bit more big and bad upon leaving the theater.

Valerie:  Oh Grandma, what big eyes you have…


24 Responses to “You’ll Want To Return Your Little ‘Red Riding Hood’ To Grandma”

  1. Gerard Iribe

    I’ll be skipping this. And yet really cool fairytale flicks get left behind like “The Brothers Grimm” by Terry Gilliam. For shame.

    I read a funny quote about this film that said: “”I saw Red Riding Hood with a theater full of high school girls. I think they liked it, because there were whole three minute stretches when they weren’t texting.””


  2. Aaron Neuwirth

    Left behind?

    Considering the horrible reviews, bad advertising, and the film opening up against Battle: LA, I’m pretty sure this fick isn’t gonna make much of a splash.

  3. Gerard Iribe

    “The Brother’s Grimm” was the bomb, yo!

  4. Aaron Neuwirth

    It’s got some interesting thing in it, it is Gilliam afterall.

    It’s way more interesting than Red Riding Twilight.

  5. Brian White

    I like Brothers Grimm

    But wow! A comparison to Village? Ouch!

  6. Aaron Neuwirth

    It’s got a whopping 8% on the old Rotten Tomatoes. I’m not alone here.

  7. Brian White

    Nope. But it looks like I’m alone here 🙁

  8. Sean Ferguson

    I liked the first half of The Village but the second half made me hate it. Brothers Grimm was ok but should have been better with the talent involved. I’m not sure what to make of this one with all of the conflicting opinions.

  9. Aaron Neuwirth

    My thoughts: Watch Sleepy Hollow

  10. Gerard Iribe

    I agree with you Sean, about The Village. I was heated in the lobby of the theater when I walked out of The Village. I’m getting angry just thinking about that film.

    Aaron, I love Sleepy Hollow. Casper Van Dien, ftw! 😉

  11. Aaron Neuwirth

    I can watch Johnny Rico do almost anything, except Starship Trooper’s 3: Marauder…and Tarzan…well I guess I don’t really want to see more of Rico…I’ve lost my focus here, but in summary, Brom Bones gets slice in half, and it’s awesome.

  12. Sean Ferguson

    I love Sleep Hollow too. I’ve got that on HD-DVD. Yeah don’t get me started on The Village. I was so pissed when I got out of the theater I almost asked for my money back. One of these days I’m going to have to do a commentary on the rise and fall of M. Night Shyamalan. The only thing worse than The Village was Lady in the Water and The Happening. I can’t trash Airbender because I couldn’t bring myself to watch it.

  13. Aaron Neuwirth

    Back to total agreement here Sean. Lady in the Water is one of the worst movies I have ever seen.

  14. Brian White

    I didn’t like Sleepy Hollow as much as I wanted to 🙁

    But I agree with everyone here on the Village and his subsequent films. Why does the public continue to waste their money on his films? Why not take a stand and tell the studios no more Shamalamadingdong movies!

  15. samantha who actually like this movie

    Who cares…shiloh fernandez was hot in red riding hood! Just saying! Wow I can’t belive I read through your whole review. How can you sit at a computer or whatever and type YOUR opinion about a movie out. It seems impossible, and childish. Who cares what you have to say about a movie. The only reason other people are agreeing with you is because they most likely think (with the given exception of a few people who actually didn’t like it) if they are the only ones who like the movie then they’ll look stupid! Its nonsense, I saw one comment where someone said “wow im not going to see this movie” or something like that because they saw this guys review. Who gives a shit about aaron neuwirth!? If you wanted to see this movie before his review came out then don’t waste your valuable time sitting at home and watching bad reality tv!

  16. kyle who actually hate this movie

    Hotness makes good films these days? If that was the case Jessica Alba and Megan Fox would have Oscars by America’s standards. The funny thing is that, YOU actually read the entire review. 😛 Aaron’s review only reestablished what was already said on Rotten Tomatoes. What does reality t.v. have to do with anything? Your response made me roflcopter. 😀

  17. Aaron Neuwirth

    First of all, thank you for making this the highlight of my day. This was a very entertaining comment to read through.

    I actually don’t sit at a computer; I strap myself to a bar and hang upside down while dictating my words to a trained typing monkey. (the monkey also both explains why “it seems impossible, and childish”) <-- a priceless line. I have to give out MY opinion, because that is exactly what this is - an opinion. If you were to notice, only two pages before this one, we actually had a favorable review posted about this film as well, with comments in favor of that opinion. From what I can tell, you enjoyed the movie (or at least found some of the actors hot) and that's great. The last thing I want is someone to go to a movie and have a bad time. Despite how terrible this movie is, I had a great time watching it (for the most part), because it is so ridiculous. I've even talked to people who planned to see it, even after hearing my thoughts on it, and they still liked it, despite agreeing with some of the points I made. If someone told me that there was a movie about Gary Oldman riding into town with a giant, metal elephant, I would actually be very intrigued to see it. The point is, I at no point say "don't see this movie," I have just given my thoughts about what I have witnessed. In this case, those thoughts were negative, but it's just one man's opinion (albeit among a myriad of many other similar opinions), and it is still up to the viewer in question to make the decision to go and see or not see the film. Finally, I like the idea that you consider my review to be the breaking point between either seeing Red Riding Hood or sitting at home and watching "bad reality tv." I also appreciate you spelling my name right, I guess that means that you give a shit about me 😉

  18. Ken

    Okay, let’s all just take a breather. Okay! Were ready for this review’s recap:

    Comparisons to The Village and tangents straddling the Lady in the Water might cause some to lose focus — M. Night ShamalawnmowermanIV’s films are not under the microscope; and I’m sure The Brothers Grimm was a good movie.

    Well, I’m glad we got that out of the way. Now on to all of you: Before you open your mouth… PLEASE! Pull your head out of your AS{tronaut’}S {helmets}. Seriously, those things are air tight and pressure locked! And anybody reading this thread just saw Samantha give herself the Dutch Oven in her last comment:

    “How can you sit at a computer or whatever and type YOUR opinion about a movie out.” – samantha who actually likes th[e smell of her own farts]is movie

    First of all Samantha, you are f{iretru}cking hurting my hears with those CAPS, and ‘no’ we don’t take you more seriously with the upper case. Also, please be original, you don’t have to go adopting the mannerisms of the author WHILE critiquing him (by that I mean the use of parenthetics). I hope you appreciate use of the author’s use of CAPS in his satirical DONKEY PUNCH on your last post.

    Lastly, for no particular reason, I would like to point out how funny it would be if we replaced the word ‘werewolf’ with the word ‘penis’ (which nearly encapsulates the silliness the movie and the thread of comments) in this review—take for example:

    “The ‘[penis]’ in this film is displayed quite prominently during the course of the film, and at no point at all did it ever seem intimidating or convincing. – A. Neurwirth

    So, we must all understand that…
    “There is nothing worse than a ‘[penis]’ that is neither intimidating for convincing.” – K. Cortez

  19. Gregg

    Samantha, I find it mind-blowing that you criticized a critic on a film review site for not his specific opinion, but for the fact that he wrote an opinion…about a film…on a film critic website. I feel your pain though. I got mad at a basket weaver one time when I found out they wove a basket.

  20. Sean Ferguson

    Whether you agree with Aaron or not, the whole point of him reviewing things is to offer his opinion on them. While I disagree with Aaron (and everyone else on this site) on the merits of The Walking Dead, I don’t get upset that he likes it. To each his own, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy reading his thoughts on it. Don’t let any of us change how you feel about a movie or anything else. You are just as entitled to your opinion as we are ours. In any case, thanks for reading the site and for allowing me a chance to give Aaron a hard time! 🙂

  21. Ken

    My, what big opinions you have.

  22. Denise

    @Samantha~I read your comment and your opinions are totally your own; I respect that. However, “who gives a shit about Aaron Neuwirth”; his mother does. Apparently, his opinions effect you a little more than you’d care to admit. Maybe you should be a Reviewer; then we will be able to read your reviews and see who gives a ‘s***’ about what you have to say. Have a great day!

  23. Brian White

    Between Gregg’s comment and this: “My, what big opinions you have.”


  24. the other ken who like this review

    This string of comments is amazing