RED RIDING HOOD
RED RIDING HOOD

There's good news for fans in need of a fix of "dark-fantasy", which is the genre this movie really falls into.  The retelling of the classic fairy-tale is fun and keeps you guessing. The movie is adapted to feature a medievil "village in the woods" story, where the villagers live in fear of werewolves, or rather one particular beast.  There are all the elements of the children's tale: the woodsman (actaully men) with the axe (many axes), the grandmother's house, and the little lady who goes for a forest stroll in her red- hooded cloak.  Updates include a rich, mercenary-for-hire type played by the great Gary Oldman, who has his own private army. He lives to wipe out just such beaties.
 
The other big tweaks include meeting Red Riding Hood's family, a love triangle or two, and the main character has both a name and is a little more grown up than we're used to: "Valerie" is played by 25 year old Amanda Seyfried (of Momma Mia fame).  This time around, the creature is more than just a wolf, but a big powerful beast of the black-magic realm. And, during the week of the Blood Moon (when mars and the moon align every 13 years--how unlucky-- to make a more reddish colored moon) its' bite doesn't just kill you: it can transform you.
 
Apparantly this version came about from a late-night chat Leonardo Dicaprio was having with friends, about adding twists and tension to the classic plot. Leo is listed as producer, and actually many of the names attached to this film give it some unexpected traction; starting with director Catherine Hardwick, who helmed the first Twilight film as well.  The Screenplay is by David Leslie Johnson (he also crafted the horror-adoption story Orphan). The cast benefits from two other beautiful women: 49 year old Virgina Madsen (Candyman) as the central character's mother, and 69 year old but still mesmerizing Julie Christie (of 2006's Away From Her and many many others) as the Grandmother, complete with her own isolated cabin in the woods.  Both of these women added far more watchability for me than the actual star, Seyfried.  I'm sure the twilight generation will love Seyfried as the centre of this flick, so they'll be happy too.
 
This movie shares some similarity with the M Night Shyamalan tale "The Village" in that the tiny self-contained hamlet is terrorized by a beast...but has developed a system to satisfy the killer by offering up livestock.  Unlike in The Village, however, this beast is seen often and is lightning fast. Silver still seems to have some hold over the creature, and this time around werewolves cannot enter holy ground, making the town church a safe spot.
 
What turns this film into a fun ride is the revelation (no spolier: this is in many of the ads & trailer) that the monster doens't live outside the town, but is more likely one of its' own inhabitants, living in hungry-hiding among the villagers.  The last half of the film keeps you guessing and re-guessing on who is the furball in our midsts.  I'm happy to say I didn't see the reveal coming, which made for a pleasant surprise for me as a viewer.
 
Also worth the price of admission  is the simplicity of the story.  Keeping true to the roots of most fairytales and children's legends, the plot is deceptively and effortlessly simple and small in scope, while still packing lots of twists.  The color and visuals are occassionally a sight to behold, especially the image of the vibrant red cloak billowing out over a crisp, white, snowcovered mounstainside.
 
And you'll love it when you hear those famous words: "...what big eyes you have..."
 
3 great things about this movie:
*The creature: it looks like a good ol'fashioned werewolf terrorizing a village should: nothing too outlandsih, yet still not your run-of-the-mill pooch
*The female supporting cast: see comments above; enough said.
*The soundtrack and costumes capture the stark, simple, scary feel of the story perfectly. Except for one flaw mentioned below....
 
3 bad things about this movie:
*The wardrobe for Gary Oldman....I got tired of seeing his poorly disguised back-zipper flapon his royal purple tunic.  It kept pulling me out of the story and reminding he was an actor.  None of the other costumes seemed to suffer from this
*The similarity to Shayamaln's The Village will seem like a bit of a plot-theft to movie buffs who notice it
*The elephant in the room...er...in the town.  I can't explain it here, you'll know what I mean.  It seems like a bad idea a writer or producer came up with, and should've been edited out
 
Overall a very watchable retalling of the fable , with a dash of who-dunit thrown in.....rating: 3.75 cookies out of 5. 
 

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