I don’t often say this about a film, but Red Riding Hood was complete dreck.
It could have been good. The plot had all the elements to make an entertaining popcorn movie. Several good actors (including the normally-fantastic Gary Oldman and Julie Christie) were cast. Dark fantasy is trendy these days (insert mild eye-rolling, as I’m personally not a fan of the trend). It had all the pieces it needed to be good.
It wasn’t. Red Riding Hood was awful.
The plot was a tangled mess with so many red herrings that, by the time the truth came out, I was quarter-past caring. The climactic slaying of the werewolf was anticlimactic, and the subsequent denouement was an illogical mishmash that tried to tie up ends that didn’t really need tying. It also suffered from the too-full-of-filler feel that you often (though not always) get when a short work of fiction is stretched into a full-length feature film.
The characters were disappointingly flat and predictable. All of them. Gary Oldman’s Solomon, in particular, was a train wreck. He was supposed to be evil and odious, a truly despicable villain. He succeeded in being despicable, but only came across as mean and puerile, not one of the multifaceted, well-motivated, INTERESTING villains Oldman usually pulls off when cast as such. I know he’s capable of much, much better, so I can only assume he was directed into being awful.
Red Riding Hood had quite a lot of violence and sexuality. Yes, I know, the original fairy tale was pretty gory, but…it just wasn’t handled well at all. The love scenes between the two main characters felt about as comfortable and natural as a junior high school dance. The scene in which a disabled youth is tortured really disturbed me and felt very out of place in a PG-13 movie. The implied manner of the grandmother’s untimely end was needlessly gross, and the manner of the werewolf’s death was laughably bad. You know how teens sometimes do needlessly violent or overly sexual things to show how “grown up” they are? The whole movie felt like that.
I’d quite looked forward to seeing the costumes, but they were ho-hum. Not awful, well-fitted to the setting, but certainly not anything I’d put forth the effort to recreate.
The sets were the one bright point in Red Riding Hood, as they were well-constructed, made sense with the story (such as it was), and were visually interesting.
I’m giving Red Riding Hood one star for the not-awful costumes and the interesting sets, but if you love your brain at all, do not subject it to this movie. I don’t just want back the 100 minutes of my life that I wasted on it. I want a magnet that I can rub over my head to eradicate it from my memory.
Release Date: March 11, 2011 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Alcohol/Drugs: 2 (social drinking, drunkenness, tavern activities)
Language: 2 (some minor swearing)
Sexuality: 1 (some steamy kissing and sensuality)
Violence: 4 (brutal violence, torture, animal sacrifice, a lot of death)