“Red Riding Hood’ entertains teenage audience

Lauren J. Mapp

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The trailer is frightening, the posters intriguing, but when it comes to the film, “Red Riding Hood” will be little more than a disappointing cult classic.

The newest film from “Twilight” director Catherine Hardwicke is one part precautionary fairytale, one part teenage-forbidden-love story and two parts cheesy. Shaken, not stirred.

“Red Riding Hood” is an adaptation of the classic fairytale warning little girls to stay out of the woods and away from strangers in order to protect their innocence. The story on which it is based does not involve an alcoholic father passing out in the snow and a love triangle between Valerie (played by Amanda Seyfried), a rich fiancé Henry (played by Max Irons) and poor bad boy woodcutter Peter (played by Shiloh Fernandez).

The opening shot takes the audience over the river, through the woods, and makes you think Edward Cullen will be running across the treetops at any moment. We’ve seen almost this exact sequence before, and Hardwicke should have stepped away from the vampire melodrama to make “Red Riding Hood” its own film.

The movie takes place in a small village on the edge of a dark forest, patrolled by a gruesome and murderous werewolf. For several generations the townspeople have given sacrificial offerings to the wolf in order to fend off his feedings during the full moon.

Not a single murder occurs for years until the sister of Valerie, or the not-so-Little Red Riding Hood, is found dead after the night of a full moon. Seyfried lends her talents well to the innocence and curiosity that Valerie requires but her acting is somewhat undermined by a poor script and the corny one-liners that spin around her.

Along with Seyfriend and Fernandez (who played Peter, the woodcutter) is Max Irons as the betrothed fiancé Henry. Both Fernandez and Irons give fair performances that are strengthened by their boyishly good looks and sex appeal.

One of the best scenes of film is between Seyfried and Fernandez as they succumb to their passion for each other and literally take a roll in the haystack. This scene without the typical teenage dialogue to ruin it is sadly cut short when they are interrupted by some nameless townspeople and an attack from the big bad wolf.

It turns out that the werewolf is not a distant creature living in a cave in the woods, but is a citizen of the village. Throughout the rest of the film the villagers along with the travelling werewolf-slaying priest Father Solomon (played by Gary Oldman) seek out the wolf. Because of a wolf to girl line of extrasensory perception Valerie is led to worry that the werewolf is someone close to her.

Though the script has its misgivings, the costumes and set design of the film are realistically medieval, even when the inconsistent accents are not. “Red Riding Hood” could have been as frightening as the preview and some of the scenes could have flowed better but the film is likely to entertain the teenage audience at which it is aimed.

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