If there wasn’t any sound throughout “Red Riding Hood,” it would be one of the most gorgeous, moving movies that has been put out this year.
Alas, the characters do open their mouths to reveal cheesy, overly dramatic lines and a plot one can see coming for miles. Director Catherine Hardwicke apparently hasn’t been able to move past her last train wreck of a movie, “Twilight.”
“Red Riding Hood” is somewhat close to the original tale. Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) is Red Riding Hood, a girl who falls in love with a boy not parent-approved, and is engaged against her will to the son of a prominent family. However, plans are put on hold when Valerie’s sister is killed by the werewolf that has long plagued the village. The village brings Rev. Solomon (Gary Oldman) in to get rid of the wolf, while more clues continue to lead Valerie to believe that she herself knows the werewolf more personally than she wishes.
The idea is wonderful: take a child’s fairy tale and more or less return it to the dark roots it originally had, whether it first appeared in a Hans Christian Anderson or a Grimm Brothers book. Seyfried as the titular character is rosy-cheeked, blonde-haired perfection for the role—looks-wise, that is. The entire cast, actually, looks perfect, complete with Oldman as a terrifying priest, Julie Christie as a dreadlocked, mystical grandmother and two dark, smoldering men whom Seyfried must choose between.
Besides Christie, who makes a gallant attempt with the shoddy dialogue and characterization she’s given, none of these people can act. Seyfried spends most of the movie making moon eyes and swooning like a damsel in distress, and the rest barely do better. Oldman, surprisingly, is just as bad, and at times it seems like he’s purposefully making his character a joke because he realizes the entire movie is as well. With so many good movies under his belt, it’s a disappointment that he doesn’t try and aid Christie to take the movie out of the pit.
It’s a huge disappointment for a movie that is visually arresting. The scenery is lush and green, and Hardwicke shoots it in such a way that the color pops from the screen, creating a real-life fairy tale. The red riding hood is dark and ominous looking, deserving of the title role. The music adds to the dark theme, creating a perfect scenery.
There is a twist, which is almost completely obvious if you’re looking for the signs. It’s the only slightly clever plot point in the entire film. Otherwise, it feels like a movie you’ve seen before, with sappier dialogue. Anyone who avoided “Twilight” should run as far away as possible from this film.
The film is the first in line of many “dark” fairy tales that are to be released. Hopefully, better actresses and directors can be found to give the Grimm tales the appropriate treatment they deserve.