Movie review – Sink your teeth into an updated classic fairy tale

2011-03-18 09:18

Film: Red Riding Hood (Nu Metro)
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Featuring: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Lukas Haas, Virginia Madsen and Julie Christie
Rating: 7/10

Director Catherine Hardwicke still has the touch when it comes to tapping into the emotional lives of teenagers. After ­parting ways with the Twilight juggernaut – she directed the first in the series – she turned her attention to another fairy tale, just as filled with pathos and just as gothic.

Her treatment of Twilight made it more than a teen film. The same is true of Red Riding Hood. This version of The Brothers Grimm’s dark tale expands the story, mixing up the roles the characters play but keeping them all in the frame: Red Riding Hood, her grandmother, the woodsman and the wolf.

Amanda Seyfried, who takes the role of Valerie, is a young actress who is showing more and more range. Her ­previous film, Chloe, was a triumph. She got the chance to expose a much darker side of herself, a side not seen in Letters to Juliet or Mamma Mia!

In Red Riding Hood, she is the damsel at the centre of the mystery in the ­medieval town she lives in that is ­terrorised by a werewolf. No one ­ventures too deeply into the forest, no one ventures out during the full moon and no one realises the wolf is one of them.

To make the title meaningful, Valerie is given a red cloak by her grandmother, played with a touch of spookiness by ­Julie Christie, for her wedding present.

She’s to marry the son of the town’s blacksmith, Henry (Max Irons). The ­trouble is she’s in love with a lowly woodsman Peter (Shiloh Fernandez). All set to run away with Peter, she’s ­thwarted by the death of her sister and the arrival of a werewolf hunter.

Echoing the horrors of the Inquisition, when the charismatic Solomon (Gary Oldman) comes to town to rid them of their beast he instead spreads fear and suspicion among the people.

In his efforts to flush out the beast, he torments the weak-minded and Valerie ends up being the goat tethered to the stake to draw out the beast – but who is it? With suspicion falling on ­everyone in turn, it becomes a whodunnit with gothic overtones.

Red Riding Hood has a few jump-out-of-your-skin moments and is encased in an eerie atmosphere. Shot with haunting beauty, it is true to the spirit of the ­fairy tale.

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