From the director of Twilight, the writer of Orphan and the actress from Letters to Juliet and Dear John comes Red Riding Hood, a disaster that somehow manages to be worse than all of those movies. It’s like the most mediocre talent in Hollywood got together one day and said, “Let’s make something awful, something that is far worse than anything we’ve ever been involved in.” How else could you explain its final outcome?
Red Riding Hood is a retelling of the classic fairy tale about a little girl who ventures through the woods to deliver food to her sick grandmother. Except it’s nothing like that. Instead, it’s an adult take on the story (“adult” in the sense that there are adults in it, not that it is in any way mature or interesting to those who aren’t 13 year old girls).
It takes place in an ambiguous time period where arranged marriages still exist and bars are still called “taverns,” except all the characters use modern grammar and speak in modern dialects, which totally makes sense. Amanda Seyfried plays Valerie, a young adult who is in love with Peter, played by Shiloh Fernandez. Ever since they were little children, they’ve had an affinity for each other, but now that they are older, they are being torn apart because Valerie’s parents have arranged for her to marry Henry, played by Max Irons. Meanwhile (and more importantly), a werewolf has been terrorizing their little village, so they have summoned Father Solomon, played by Gary Oldman, to find it and kill it. But as they soon learn, the werewolf is someone who lives among them.
Red Riding Hood does nearly everything wrong. From the smallest problems to the biggest, one can’t help but stare at the screen in awe, strangely intrigued by just how unbelievably terrible the movie is. You watch it the same way you would watch a burning building. It’s a terrible sight, but morbid curiosity makes it so hard to look away. Essentially, the film revolves around a love triangle and a werewolf, familiar territory for anyone who has ever experienced Twilight, which this movie closely resembles, minus the vampires. There are longing stares, awkward love scenes and cliché dialogue that consists of gems like, “If you love her, you’ll let her go.”
While it sometimes feels like the story of the werewolf ripping people to shreds takes a back seat to the uninteresting romance, the film never misses the opportunity to throw out in-your-face clues to the werewolf’s identity, all of which are meant to throw you off track. Aside from the quick cuts to close-up shots of characters looking suspicious whenever the werewolf is mentioned, the film uses none-too-subtle dialogue like “I could eat you up” that is so brazenly obvious it actually comes off as kind of desperate. By the time they have Seyfried recite the classic “what big [blank] you have” lines, you’ll be clutching your sides, unable to breath from hysterical fits of laughter.
Despite all that, one can’t help but feel bad for Gary Oldman, who is forced to recite some of the stupidest lines of his career. With such an impressive filmography, he deserves better, though you do get the feeling that he’s enjoying hamming it up onscreen, which makes his scenes a little easier to watch than the rest of the film. In a way, they work similar to the “ugly girl” effect. When they’re surrounded by garbage, they look pretty good in comparison.
Red Riding Hood receives 1/5