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Review: Red Riding Hood

PUBLISHED: 15:56 15 April 2011

Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood

Archant

In Red Riding Hood, the director of the first Twilight movie attempts to do an Angela Carter, giving a dark and sinister twist to an ancient fairy tale.

Hollywood ingénue, what big eyes you have. Amanda Seyfried has always struck me as the very embodiment of insipid but she

is rather good in the title role here, banging away, trying to make a case for audiences to take an interest.

It arrives over here with a dismal reputation but it’s really not that bad, just dull and entirely uninteresting.

It’s a teen romance spin on Company of Wolves and The Crucible with a little whodunit thrown in. It is set in a snowbound

fairy tale village that knows it is being terrorised by a werewolf but doesn’t seem to fully grasp the whole were-wolf concept. E

Eventually Gary Oldman’s puritan religious enforcer is called in to explain to them that it’s no good hunting it outside the village because it is hidden in human form inside their village.

It could be anyone of them. Perhaps it’s the smouldering but lowly woodcutter (Shiloh Fernandez) that our heroine loves. Or that slightly stiff rich blacksmith (Max Irons) her family is trying to force her to marry? Or maybe it’s dear old Grandma (Julie Christie)?

There are some decent ideas in the script and the final reveal of the wolf’s identity is well done. But doing fairy tales as sinister, twisted fables of emerging sexuality is no longer novel and director Hardwicke’s handling of it is slack.

She seems to just concentrate on executing a number of big visual moments (like a helicopter shot of the long Red hood trailing across a snow covered mountain) which aren’t actually that compelling and has no real idea how to shape a narrative around them.

The cast do their best but Gary Oldman gives it away. Not only does his presence remind you how much better Coppola did this kind of thing in Dracula, but he seems to have developed into an onscreen barometer of a film’s merit.

The quality and commitment of his performances now almost exactly matches that of the films he is in, and he’s not really bothering here.

Red Riding Hood (12A)

Director: Catherine Hardwicke

With: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons, Virginia Madsen and Julie Christie

Length: 100 mins

**

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