After the resounding success of Twilight, director Catherine Hardwicke went on to direct a more teen-friendly, melodramatic take on a classic Grimm tale with Red Riding Hood.
The film, it turned out, had very little to do with Little Red Riding Hood and was mostly just a thinly-disguised excuse to have yet another supernatural love triangle plot involving werewolves and young girls with mixed emotions.
Oh, and Billy Burke.
Gotta have Billy Burke.
Amanda Seyfried is Valerie, the red hood-wearing gal who falls for a woodcutter when her family decides to set her up with another young man who is much more well-off. This is all mostly irrelevant and uninteresting and the movie itself seems more interested in its "whodunit" plot which involves a telepathic werewolf (don't ask) who is terrorising the village and some nonsense about how Mars, when aligned with the Moon, can affect the werewolf's bite or whatever. The big question throughout the film being who could be the wolf. Gary Oldman shows up about halfway through to try to capture the beast through a combination of yelling out over-the-top speeches and not being very useful at all. Think Cardinal Richelieu crossed with Elmer Fudd. There's something very stagy about Red Riding Hood, the effect of having the village sets being surrounded by CGI landscapes doesn't quite sell the setting and neither does the fake snow that's floating around the entire time.
It's essentially like watching a play in front of a green-screen, minus the green.
Unfortunately, the question soon turns from "who is the wolf?" to "who cares?" as very little happens and you find yourself looking at your watch, waiting for anything resembling the Little Red Riding Hood story to happen and, indeed, near the end we do finally get a couple of references. Take away those and the red hood, however, and you've got yourself a passable werewolf movie that has absolutely nothing to do with any fairy tale whatsoever, which makes this "Red Riding Hood" title more of a sly marketing gimmick than a legitimate attempt at telling a familiar story in a unique way. Luckily, Hardwicke has a good sense of mood so the film possesses a similarly rainy tone to the first Twilight movie and that definitely gives Red Riding Hood an intriguing feel, especially during that wolf party scene which entertainingly mixes the period setting with some modern music. It's just a shame that, as a whole, the film is predominantly a dull affair and its story is one that really didn't need telling as it offers nothing new or particularly special to the werewolf genre.
Though it's somewhat grim, Red Riding Hood is far from being... Grimm. Instead, this is a weak Twilight-lite attempt at taking the same Young Adult books-reading audience through a near identical experience but with a whole new cast.
Except Billy Burke.
Gotta have Billy Burke.
(PS: watch Freeway instead)