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Red Riding Hood Looks Pretty, But Looks Are Deceiving

Red Riding Hood
Directed by Catherine Hardwicke
Written by David Johnson
Warner Bros., 2011

Director Catherine Hardwicke got massive critical acclaim for Thirteen, the movie about troubled teenage girls making bad decisions with love and drugs, but she’s best known as the director of the first Twilight movie, and that’s why she’s here.  And I think she’s made a movie that’s worse than Twilight.

Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) is in a bind.  She loves her long-time friend Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), but she’s being offered up for marriage to Henry (Max Irons).  It’s the way things are done.  Her mom (Virginia Madsen) loved another man, but is married to Cesaire (Billy Burke).  Events are set into motion when the village in which they live is attacked by a werewolf and kills Valerie’s sister.  The people of the village have been paying homage to the wolf in return for no attacks, and this is a breach of their contract, so a band of merry men go out to kill the wolf.  And they kill one but good.  But it’s no werewolf, as a professional werewolf hunter named Solomon (Gary Oldman) attests.  He says that the werewolf definitely lives in the village and is one of them.  This starts casting suspicion on…everybody in the movie.  Could one of Valerie’s suitors be the wolf?  They certainly have motive!

And at this point the movie really starts to suck.  I’ll tell you why it’s so infuriating in this instance.  Most movies that suck, they just suck quietly and fade into obscurity.  This movie decides to insult your intelligence at every turn.  Basically Hardwicke casts suspicion so hard on every character, including the grandmother character played by Julie Christie, that it becomes moot as to who really is the wolf.  It becomes an exercise on which character she doesn’t cast too much suspicion on…haha….classic!  Seriously, every single character could have been a wolf at the end (I’ll save you the suspense, it’s only one character) and it wouldn’t be a surprise.

Directing the director: come on.  I know Hardwicke has much more talent than this, and perhaps this is a studio-mandated type of thing to just abuse the “cast suspicion on everyone” kind of mystery, but really it makes you not care one bit who it could be or why.  You watch enough movies, you know who it isn’t pretty quickly.  There was a chance to do something really awesome with a surprise killer or killers and a fresh take on a classic, but nah, it’s like every other banal whodunnit you’ve ever seen.

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