The familiar lines, “I’ll huff and I’ll puff…” and “Grandma, what great big eyes you have…” both appear in “Red Riding Hood,” the new Amanda Seyfried supernatural romance, and our heroine does wear a bright red cloak, but any resemblance to the source material ends there.
Set in a medieval village, Seyfried plays the anachronistically named Valerie, a pretty young woman in love with one boy but engaged to another, richer man. That’s not the worst of her problems, however. A big bad werewolf has been reigning chaos on her village for generations, and now, with a blood moon rising and silver-finger tipped werewolf hunter coming to town it looks like her story might take a grim—but not necessarily Grimm—turn.
Following in the footsteps of so many of today’s angsty supernatural romances for teens, “Red Riding Hood” (which was directed by “Twilight, Mach One” director Catherine Hardwicke) plays like an odd but imaginative hybrid of “The Crucible” and “Twilight.”
Filled with dramatic moments that aren’t really as dramatic as I imagine Hardwicke would hope and a mystery filled with red herrings and heaving bosoms “Red Riding Hood” has a weird rhythm to it.
Hardwicke, a former production designer has made a terrific looking movie—in wide shots the village looks like an illustration from a high end kid’s book of fairy tales—and Seyfried’s movie star face, with it’s beautifully exaggerated features—bee stung lips and Bette Davis eyes—holds the screen, but Hardwicke never met a steady cam shot she didn’t love and her restless shooting style seems to have influenced the story as well. The narrative is a bit all over the place as though it is trying too hard to hit all the points that make up teen entertainment in 2011. A bit of script streamlining would have helped the big bad wolf from blowing this house of cards down.
And while I’m at it, can we discuss Gary Oldman for a moment? He’s probably having more fun and making more money now with films like “Kung Fu Panda 2” and playing Sirius Black in the “Harry Potter” films than he did when he essaying Joe Orton in “Prick Up Your Ears” but I miss watching the volatile and versatile actor who disappeared into roles like Sid Vicious and Albert Milo.
Despite its title “Red Riding Hood” isn’t kid’s stuff, but it also isn’t quite well developed enough to be adult fare either.