Red Riding Hood

The Russian Poster for "Red Riding Hood"

"Why do these trees have thorns?"

Hello to all! I am Elizabeth, here to contribute to JournalStone’s rich world, starting with the werewolf fantasy/horror flick Red Riding Hood.

In what appears to be an underdressed, over-hairgelled and waxed (so many shiny, bare chests in the middle of winter!) Puritan colony under siege from a werewolf, young Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) falls in love with young Peter (Shiloh Fernandez). Sadly, young Henry (Max Irons) is in love with young Valerie, which makes Valerie’s young-looking mother (Virginia Madsen) happy because he’s rich. Valerie is not as thrilled, and plans to run away with young Peter. This part of the movie is pretty bad; Valerie and Peter have zero chemistry, making their scenes together almost painful to watch. Thankfully, these scenes are rescued by lovely visuals–the camera sweeps above the mountains surrounding our village, showing snow-capped peaks and white valleys broken only by Valerie’s blue dress or Peter’s black leathers, leaving my stomach somewhere in my feet more than once–and don’t last long.

Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried

"The better to creep you out with, my dear."

Soon the werewolf’s first victim is found and the town calls Father Gary Oldman–I’m sure his character has a name, but c’mon, it’s Gary Oldman–to save them, thus increasing Red Riding Hood‘s coolness by a factor of 1000. A fanatical, torture-happy lunatic, he uses the village’s fear as fuel for paranoia, turning friends and family against each other. To Valerie’s dismay, all the men in her life are suspected to be the wolf, which means she’s a suspect by association. Here the plot takes off, becoming a mystery dotted with werewolf attacks and occasional shots of the grotesque that horror fans will love.

"I knew you'd come to no good."

For safety, Valerie runs to her grandmother Julie Christie’s house, putting the final piece of the film into place. Christie gave an awesome performance and got the best scene in the movie, modeled after the famous, “Better to eat you with my dear,” fairy tale line.

"This isn't what it looks like."

Whether you like Catherine Hardwicke’s film choices or not, it’s hard to deny she knows how to get a shot. A scene of drunken dancing became a passionate, then frightening, bacchanalia through clever shots of fire and strange masks. Potentially dull scenes of people talking inside cabins grew suspenseful with the amplified sound of Valerie squeezing rags saturated with blood; close-ups of her terror wondering if she’d been cornered by the wolf while darting around tables and doors; and threw aside curtains to reveal hidden figures who seemed friendly…until they didn’t.

Father Oldman and his merry men.

"We're nice guys. Really."

For werewolf/horror fans the first twenty minutes of Red Riding Hood are to be endured. The rest is to be savored. It has atmosphere and is incredible to look at. If you can get past wondering why no one is wearing any clothes in winter, don’t ask the plot to make too much sense, and can cringe your way through a few soppy love scenes, there’s a lot to enjoy.

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By Elizabeth Reuter

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