Remember that movie Ever After? It was a live-action, more grounded reality-based version of Cinderella. Still in a historical period, but I don’t even think they had magic. Just a glass slipper and mistaken identity. Well, obviously it wasn’t that memorable but I think I recall it being okay. Red Riding Hood is a bad new version of a fairy tale.
Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) lives in a village plagued by a werewolf that lives in the forest. She’s in love with Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) but her mother (Virginia Madsen) has arranged her marriage to Henry (Max Irons). Her grandmother (Julie Christie) makes her red riding hood, although she never rides so it’s just a red hooded cloak.
Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) arrives in Daggerhorn village. He’s the only character with any credibility, like all Gary Oldman characters in otherwise forgettable films. Solomon is the werewolf expert and he plans to flush out the werewolf living in Daggerhorn. Throughout the story, the movie tries to make you think everyone could be the werewolf.
That’s your bold new take on Red Riding Hood? A whodunit? Clutter the story with red herrings until you get to the reveal? Along the way, dwell in the boring town life? There’s a bonfire dance where Valerie canoodles with Prudence (Kacey Rohl) to make Peter jealous. There’s family scandal because Valerie’s father (Billy Burke) is not her sister’s father. Simplistic drama, only the actors all wear costumes and speak in quainter English.
The wolf CGI is bad and its telepathic communication with Valerie is ridiculous. Audience members rightly laughed. They incorporate the “big eyes, big ears, big teeth” line in a sequence so lame it’s not even relevant to the story.
Also, Daggerhorn’s big problem is they live outside a forest ruled by a werewolf. JUST MOVE! It’s only thatched huts we’re talking about. It’s not like they’re locked in with property values like we are today. They can build more thatched huts be another forest, or better yet in a meadow.
There is a kick ass way to redo this fairy tale. Make Valerie’s trip through the forest a Lord of the Rings epic quest building up to the final battle at grandmother’s house. Instead this is all the boring parts of a teen romance.