RED RIDING HOOD Review

What has happened to Hardwicke? Does the "Twilight" director think she can only make gothic pieces that deal with love triangles and fairy tale creatures now? The idea of re-imagining little red riding hood as an old gothic tale is no doubt intriguing and could have certainly spawned something better than what has been divulged here. Too bad really, because "Red Riding Hood" has the talent, both in front of and behind the camera, it's just none of them seem to really care about the story they are telling or how it comes out. They are simply going through the motions, trying their best to capture what they think their target audience will most enjoy. Hardwicke, I thought, is a talented director. I enjoyed her earlier films like "Thirteen" and "Lords of Dogtown" and if she would have applied some of that skill for depicting genuine relationships between young women and their elders to a changing society and social world as she did in "Thirteen" to her latest effort, it may have turned out a little more serious and not so much silly.

I'm not an expert on folk tales, but I'm pretty sure the little red riding hood story didn't involve Edward and Jacob, I mean Peter and Henry. Was it really necessary to continue making the vampire series because she didn't get the directing gig for the rest of the series? "Red Riding Hood" should have focused itself more on the family histories and towns people that make up this little village tucked away in the snow covered mountains. Instead we get a very familiar story that features two male leads we can hardly tell apart. As Valerie, the very pretty but very lifeless Amanda Seyfried seems to think that because she looks perfect for this type of role, that it is enough and that she can get away with passively saying the lines with no conviction as to whether she really even likes either of these guys pining for her affection. As Henry, Max Irons (nephew of Jeremy Irons) seems bored with his righteous, wealthy good boy image and as Peter Shiloh Fernandez looks distractingly like a young Joaquin Phoenix, but has zero if that guys acting chops.

Which brings me to the biggest conundrum of this whole deal, why is the acting so stiff and awkward here. Even though Fernandez's acting skills are probably too naive too know how bad they turned out to be on screen, there is no excuse for actors such like Virginia Madsen, Billy Burke to be so corny. And though Julie Christie is the only light in this very dark and gruesome acting experience, you are constantly wondering what made her take this project. The best part about the film is Gary Oldman's corrupt preacher man, a famous werewolf hunter, who the town hires to help them rid themselves of their infestation. Oldman is the only one who seems to know how silly all of this really is and he revels in his showy role, wearing off-setting purple robes and sporting sharp silver finger nails, you know, just in case any wolves sneak up on him.

No matter how silly it got or how bad I wish it could have been fixed, I was never able to get over what a horrible waste of an opportunity this was. "Red Riding Hood" could have been a truly creepy story along the lines of a "Pan's Labyrinth" but instead the CGI wolf just elicits more laughs than shivers. We are exposed to it all too much and all too often. There is no suspense, no horror, no mystery left by the end of the film. The film simply has no bite and will be relegated to the rental shelves where, if you have any interest in it at all, is where you should pick it up from and either be disappointed, find yourself laughing or worst of all be reminded of that other huge love story involving things with sharp teeth. Why Hardwicke why?