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Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

CATHERINE Hardwicke’s Red Riding Hood feels like a sheep in wolf’s clothing in that it promises a lot more than it delivers.

A re-imagining of the classic fairytale that attempts to play up the darker aspects of the story, the film should have been a lot more sinister and far more engrossing.

Instead, it’s a dull whodunit framed within a tepid love triangle that invites all too easy comparisons with Twilight, the franchise Hardwicke was instrumental in helping to kick-start.

The plot finds the inhabitants of a closely knit fantastical village finding their lives terrorised by a murderous werewolf.

Caught in the turmoil is Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), who loves childhood sweetheart and wood-cutter Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), but who is betrothed to marry the far wealthier Henry (Max Irons).

Stirring up the paranoia, meanwhile, is Gary Oldman’s Father Solomon, who sets neighbour against neighbour with the revelation that the wolf is most likely to be someone living among them.

To be fair, there are some nice ideas in Hardwicke’s film that warrant greater exploration. But her direction seems caught in two minds and lacks the bite to really get viewers’ blood rushing.

The central romance lacks conviction, especially given the lack of any real doubt who Valerie will choose, while the thriller aspect is more hammy than frightening by virtue of Oldman’s decision to riff on his Dracula persona.

Nods to contemporary concerns such as torture and the effect of occupying forces on personal freedoms also feel more heavy-handed than intelligent.

And to cap a bad job, even the sets feel false… as does the obviously CGI wolf.

On the plus side, screen veteran Julie Christie is good value (and a hoot during the trippy ‘what big eyes you have’ sequence), Oldman is at least having some fun and both Irons and Fernandez show promise for the future.

But in most other respects this is a disappointingly lacklustre experience that’s more likely to leave beleaguered fairytale fans groaning ‘oh Catherine, what a big mess you’ve made’!

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 100mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: Friday, August 22, 2011