Red Riding Hood

Yes, this is the classic story in case you were wondering…Set in medieval times, the tale of Red involves a town haunted by a werewolf epidemic. The villagers are scared and have been dealing with this for quite some time, so they’ve developed methods of preparing for a possible wolf attack as well as superstitious beliefs that add fuel to the fire. Interwoven with this tale of village and wolf is Valerie (played by Amanda Seyfried) who is caught in a love triangle between the guy she really wants and another suitor through an arranged marriage setup.

The complication to the tale comes in two forms when Father Solomon, werewolf hunter (played by the uber-talented Gary Oldman) shows up to lend a hand and the werewolf starts communicating telepathically with Valerie beckoning her to run away with him. Wait, what? It turns out there is a reason for this connection so after some initial trepidation, it works out.

The villagers turn on Valerie because of her connection and she is offered up as a sacrifice to the beast as bait. And on it goes from there…

This was ok, but is ultimately set up as a vehicle for Seyfried and her fans as this is a very watered-down teen love kind of presentation. So much so that I’m genuinely surprised Gary Oldman signed up for this, it doesn’t seem like his kind of picture. And just to emphasize my point more you only need to look at the production design – supposedly medieval times but yet everyone is amazingly clean with new-ish clothing, makeup on the girls and boys with perfectly coifed hair. Wow, hair gel in medieval times, no kidding. Kind of hard to suspend disbelief with that aesthetic quality to the production.

Ultimately this kind of reminds me of something you would see on the SyFy channel. Even though the film cost roughly 42M, the design doesn’t feel authentic and the wolf looks CG.

The acting is ok, not great, even Gary Oldman is kind of doing his somewhat usual pious bad guy (he was better in the Book of Eli with this type of role) who’s antics border on cartoony when he tortures a mentally disabled boy. The 2 guys competing for Seyfried are un-inspiring and forced, they both seem like cream puffs trying to be tough.

In terms of the directing, it’s pretty cookie-cutter with the supposedly tense moments feeling more awkward and ill-planned. There’s some fake outs that just come off confusing and don’t go anywhere (such as an awkward exchange between Red and her grandmother when there’s some suspicion that should raise tension but falls flat).

If you’re a teenager into Amanda Seyfried, you’ll probably like this. If not, there’s a good chance you won’t.

reviewed by Sean McKnight