By Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Red Riding Hood is what happens when you take The Company of Wolves and remove the skilful direction, delicious symbolism and bouyant sexuality. If you’re a horror fan, it’s not scary. If you’re a fairy tale fan looking for an interesting re-telling, it’s not that either. This is a movie made for the Twilight crowd. Yes, those viewers who complained that, when the Wolf Man remake came out, it plagiarized the Jacob character. They didn’t realize Lon Cheney Jr. had starred as a wolfman decades before. And, for them, Red Riding Hood might seem like an awesome concept, with pretty performers delivering static lines amidst nice backdrops. Oh, and a monster somewhere in the foreground. But no matter about the monster, because the camera will be content to linger on the lips and pretty face of its actress, and the smouldering good looks of the male leads. That’s what watered-down Gothic is all about.
Don’t think I’m being snobby. I like a good, cheesy romp; I’m a Gothic-hungry viewer and I went into Red Riding Hood expecting cheese. Alas, there wasn’t enough of it. It was just boring. The director clearly knows how to stage a scene (and knows how to employ colour, with dashes of it along the snowy landscape), but pretty framing does not a full movie make.You could achieve far more convincing and entertaining results by putting up photographs of Leibovitz’s fairy tale series and cycling through them.
To make matters worse, for a movie that wants to cash in on teenage sexuality as a metaphor, it’s rather coy on this front. It’s like they cut out all the good pages of the trashy romances novels of my teenage years. Which, frankly, what a bore.
The saving grace of the flick? Gary Oldman, who rides into town with some werewolf-hunting in mind. Oldman made me wonder what he could do in a remake of Matthew Hopkins: Witchfinder General. Soon, I was building an entirely different storyline in my head.
For those with no inclination toward constructing fanfic while staring at a large movie screen, I recommend dusting off The Company of Wolves, or even Cat People (the 80s version, if you can’t stand black-and-white). There. I have suffered for your sins. Now you don’t have to dash to the movie theatre and part with your hard earned cash.