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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Red Riding Hood (2011) Horror Werewolf

Red Riding Hood (2011) - Taking on a classic tale is a difficult task. Everyone who knows the story comes in with preconceived ideas about the meaning of the tale. In the Grimm tale Little Red Riding Hood is a moral tale about following your Mother's directions, but not this new film by writer David Johnson which is about love, trust and family secrets. In this case Red Riding Hood is Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) a beautiful villager in a small wooded community. She is a pretty but tough girl and has a man in her life named Peter (Shiloh Fernandez). As children they were best friends and as twenty somethings playing teens they are in love. Unfortunately for Valerie her family has promised her hand in marriage to Henry (Max Irons). It would be a marriage that financially would benefit Valerie and why her Mother Suzette (Virginia Madsen) arranged it. Suzette does not want Valerie to end up like her, married to Drunkard Cesaire (Billy Burke who scratches out a living cutting wood. Finishing out the family is the Grandmother (Julie Christie) who live out in the woods away from the walled village and her soon to be dead sister. The town itself is set in a middle ages type setting without all the nasty dirt and disease of the actual time period.
For years the village has held a precarious appeasement relationship of a wolf that in the past has killed, by each month putting out a living sacrifice for it to eat they keep their children from going missing. This go horribly wrong when the sister is found dead in the strange haystack field. Strange not because of how she died, it was a wolf attack but because of the strange blue flowers that were all over the haystacks. It was distracting and I found myself thinking I would have to do some Googling to find out what appeared as a decoration. It turns out I could not find anything on blue flowers in haystacks and it appears to just be a set design choice. Like in my viewing of the film let me pull myself back into the story.
At its core the film is a "who done it", with the knowledge that there is the wolf, or in this case a werewolf, but we the audience having to guess which villager is the culprit. To spur the story along the village priest Father Auguste (Lukas Haas, who gets bonus points for having appeared in the cult sci-fi film Solarbabies) calls in a werewolf hunter named Soloman (Gary Oldman) to deal with the wolf. Soloman is a damaged soul who had the horror of finding out his wife was a werewolf and is a driven hunter because of the experience. When he arrives at the village with the cast iron elephant and introduces his distrust to everyone he gets the entire village on edge. What is that elephant?
The story lead by this madman works to drive the wolf out of hiding, and to put distrust into everyone. The werewolf could be anyone and director Catherine Hardwicke and writer Johnson creates a web of deception to lead the audience in the direction of various suspects. I say they lead us because through tricks of the script and basically failing to show the audience anything important to solving the mystery push us to thinking the werewolf could be anyone. Is it the boyfriend Henry? Maybe the grandmother? The blatant manipulation is very off putting in this film. In fact every time the film pushed a new suspect at me I figured I could eliminate that character from consideration, and felt a bit cheated that the filmmakers treated me so disrespectfully. Then because of the amazingly over the top plot manipulation the they had to create a scene that showed you all the things they purposefully kept from you. That way they could reveal the killer and show how they fooled you. Grrrrr!
The film is also so incredibly clean, the people, the village the forest are all wonderfully perfect sets, but I let that go because if you take it as a fantasy story you can have lovely sets. Overall I just came away feeling a bit cheated though because the realism was missing from the design. The best actress of the group Julie Christie was under utilized and instead the overacting Gary Oldman put forth as the main antagonist. The film to me. treated me as a stooge to be fooled and then pats itself on the back at how smartly it deceived me. So I don't think this is going to get a recommendation from this blog.
Rating (4.5) 5.0 and up are recommended, in the Zombiegrrlz system Skip It!

1 comment:

  1. LOL. I found your blog because I was searching for information on the strange blue haystack flowers. XD