Friday, March 11, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW: Red Riding Hood

Guest blogger Liz Parker is back from an advance screening of "Red Riding Hood" staring Amanda Seyfried. Is this a hot, sexy thriller with a gorgeous cast or just a hot mess? Let's read what Liz thinks...

I should know by now never to trust a trailer for a movie, yet time and time again I let myself get sucked in. I first saw the teaser trailer for "Red Riding Hood" last November, and the song near the end of the trailer pretty much nailed what I thought would be a thrilling movie. When the second, longer trailer came out a few months later, it made the movie look a bit scarier - it definitely focused more on the werewolf aspect than the romance(s) going on - but still worth seeing. After seeing the train wreck that is this movie, I can say this: kudos to whomever made the trailers for this movie, as you were able to make a disjointed film seem like it was going to be an awesome one.

Valerie (Amanda Seyfried, "Letters to Juliet") lives in a village with her mother (Virginia Madsen, TV's "Scoundrels"), father (Billy Burke, "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse"), sister, and grandmother (Julie Christie, "New York, I Love You"). Each full moon the village sacrifices their best meat so that the werewolf will not bring harm upon them, but now the werewolf has killed Valerie's sister. The villagers decide to find, hunt, and kill the wolf, and they are successful; however, when Father Solomon (Gary Oldman, "The Book of Eli") comes to town, they realize they have killed the wrong wolf. Meanwhile, Valerie's fate has just been decided - she is to be engaged to Henry (Max Irons, "Dorian Gray"), whose family has money - but all her life she's been in love with her friend Peter (Shiloh Fernandez, "Happiness Runs"), and she refuses to give that up for Henry. When the wolf comes to town and wants Valerie to follow it, however, her fate may just change.

First of all, the set for the movie looked completely fake. I get that this is a medieval village, and therefore is not going to look completely authentic, but it really looked like the budget for sets had been slashed, or something. The cinematography itself was great, especially when we see Seyfried's long red cloak flies around against the snowy backdrop, and the long-angle snow scenes (reminiscent of the forests in "Twilight," actually, of which Red Riding Hood's director Catherine Hardwicke also directed), but unfortunately there are not enough of these. Seyfried is decent in her role and so is Oldman, as the church-crazed werewolf hunter, but the rest of the cast either doesn't try hard enough or doesn't get enough screen time. We see more scenes with Seyfriend and her mother and grandmother then with either of her two prospective beaus (Max Irons and Shiloh Fernandez), and the scenes with the wolf are bizarre, albeit interesting. Apparently werewolves can't cross over holy ground, so all the villagers are safe on the church ground ... which begs the question ... why don't they all just stay in the church, then, instead of wandering around outside at night by themselves?

No, don't see this film. It was a disappointment from what I was expecting, and an even harsher disappointment from what the trailers purport the film to be. When the question of which of the villagers finally IS the wolf is resolved, it made for a good ending, but a good ending by itself cannot save an entire film. The trailers made the film look like it would either be thrilling, sexy, or both, and "Red Riding Hood" delivers neither.

"Red Riding Hood" is in theaters today, March 11th.

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Liz Parker is a 2009 graduate of the University of Michigan. She currently works as an Assistant Medical Editor for a pathology website. Visit her at her movie blog Yes/No Films
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