The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Red Riding Hood

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4_Chicks_Small  Judy Thorburn

Las Vegas Round The Clock -
Women's Film Critic Circle -
Nevada Film Critics Society -
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Red Riding Hood

Think you know the Brothers Grimm fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood? Think again. This fantasy horror flick bares little resemblance to the children's story. In this re-imagined, more mature version, aimed at young adults and older audiences, the “little” is understandably dropped from from the title.

Red, now given the name Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), has grown up and turned into a sexy beauty stuck in a love triangle between two equally hot stud muffins, while, not a wolf, but a scheming, bloodthirsty werewolf is dangerously lurking about. If it sounds a bit familiar, that is because director Catherine Hardwicke was inspired by her previous work, the first installment of the immensely popular Twilight film franchise. The blend of teen romance within a supernatural tale was a winning combo and is repeated here.

The story is set in a remote medieval village named Daggerhorn where the residents have been sacrificing livestock on a monthly basis for years in order to ward off what they believe to be a wolf prowling in the nearby woods. Meanwhile, against her wishes, Valerie's parents (Virginia Madsen and Billy Burke) have arranged for their beautiful daughter to marry Henry, a wealthy, sweet mannered blacksmith (Max Irons) even though she is in love with the more brooding Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) a poor woodcutter. Valerie and Peter decide to run off together, but their plans hit a snag when they learn that Valerie's sister has been killed by the wolf.

Distraught by the killing of a human and eager to seek revenge, the village priest (Lukas Haas) sends for famed werewolf hunter Father Solomon (Gary Oldman, hamming it up to perfection). Upon arrival he informs the townspeople that they have been deceived in thinking a wolf is responsible for the young woman's death. The culprit is a werewolf that takes human form by day. He lives amongst them and could be anyone. Making matters worse, under a blood moon week, humans rather than animals are the werewolf's target, and noone is safe.

Still very much a part of the scenario is Valerie's grandma (a still pretty, 69 year old Julie Christie) who lives alone in a distant cabin deep in the woods with plenty of time to knit her visiting granddaughter a red cloak. Given her questionable, odd behavior that falls between nurturing and possibly sinister, we can't help but wonder if she could be the werewolf. Yet, as the story unfolds, there are several red herrings to keep us guessing. In the end, the pieces of the puzzle, drawn from backstory hints, fit nicely into place.

Director Hardwicke, working from a taut script by Leslie David Johnson (Orphan) creates a dark, atmospheric tale cloaked in mystery and suspense with a bit of sly humor injected that pays homage to the original fairy tale. In addition, the haunting music, gorgeous set design (filmed in Vancouver), costumes, and CGI effects are all striking and work together to draw you into the story.

This retelling of Red Riding Hood exceeded my expectations. The way I see it, if you are going to rework one of the most well known fairy tales, then you better do it right. The creative team did just that, and impressively so.

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