Red Riding Hood

For the first time since Modest Movie’s inception we have an exclusive review of a recent film – Red Riding Hood – before it hits theatres! Special thanks to Criticize This! for hooking us up with tickets.

Red Riding Hood is directed by Catherine Hardwicke (best known for bringing the Twilight series to life – for better or for worse) and stars Amanda Seyfried, a couple of unknown “pretty-boy” actors (Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons), and Gary Oldman. Yes, Agent Stansfield himself.

The film begins with probably one of the most cobbled-together and uninteresting (not to mention unimportant) scenes in history. Young Valerie (Seyfried’s character) and Young Peter (one of the “pretty-boy” actors) journey into the forest and trap a rabbit. Valerie holds the rabbit while Peter holds a knife. She goads him into killing the animal, but he can’t do it. He hands her the knife after she insists she can handle it and before she slices the rabbit’s throat (and before angry emails start shooting out from PETA headquarters), the screen fades to black and the text “10 Years Later” pops up onscreen.

Yes, somehow this single scene is a pivotal moment in both Valerie’s and Peter’s life. So much so that the event isn’t even mentioned again until 2/3rds of the way through the movie. I won’t spoil what happens to the rabbit. It dies.

Red Riding Hood is an amalgamation of some of the worst films of the past decade – the stilted dialogue of George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels, the wooden acting and left-over sets from M. Night Shymalan’s The Village, and a painful and forced “love triangle” (though to call it a “love triangle” is a bit of a misnomer when Seyfried makes it clear that she absolutely has no interest in one of the….uh….love interests) lifted directly from Hardwicke’s other film, Twilight. I’m curious to see if this will make it onto the 2011 Razzie list after being released so early in the game.

Gary Oldman is the only actor to provide some semblance of gravitas to the proceedings. His villainous Father Salomon treads the familiar ground of a vengeance-seeking man who transforms into a monster, and Oldman hams his way through the veiled-exposition-as-dialogue and ridiculous character choices (he has silver nails…for killing werewolves) and manages to give a credible performance. His portrayal also made an audience member uneasy during the screening – especially in a scene where he uses drastic measures to interrogate an autistic boy. Winning.

Red Riding Hood plays best as an unintentional comedy. There’s one character (the old hag lady) who shows up just to glare at Seyfried (much like Family Guy‘s “evil monkey” gag). One of the “pretty boy” actors emphasizes his love for Seyfried by saying that he does care about her, and then saying the exact same thing – only quieter. It only gets more absurd when a climatic scene requires Seyfried to wear a metal pig mask, reminiscent of Nicolas Cage’s bear suit in The Wicker Man. Red Riding Hood will find a second life after its run in theatres as either a college drinking game or an internet meme. Mark my words.

D+ (for Gary Oldman, and his silver fingernails)

Sidenote: Director Catherine Hardwicke was in attendance and answered a brief Q&A after the film. It was slightly embarrassing that half the theatre left before she even began to speak (c’mon people, a little respect) and that others continued to shuffle out as she was speaking. She seems like a pretty genuine person who just enjoys making her own films – even if she was at a loss to explain some of her artistic choices beyond vague descriptions (the rabbit scene is important because it shows the “tomboyish” nature of Seyfried’s character). I was tempted to upgrade this movie to a “C” rating just based on Hardwicke being a good sport about the whole thing, and because I wasn’t part of the movie’s target demographic (i.e. teenage girl). But that wouldn’t be fair to the readers, so D+ it is and so it shall remain.

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4 Responses to Red Riding Hood

  1. aycakll says:

    WHATS THE NAME OF THE PRETTY BOY IN THE RABBIT SCENE? GOTTA’ KNOW!

  2. Justine says:

    ther are like…..no pics online of himm……

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