Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) lives in a small village that has been terrorized by a murderous werewolf for years. Lucky for her, she has two suitors to protect her, though only one is her true love and supposed to be a secret. She also has her doting mother, father and grandmother (who gives her the red cloak) to care for her and keep her away from the ferocious canine. Wolf hunter Father Soloman (Gary Oldman) is summoned to help bring down the beast. He tells the villagers that the killer can also take a human form and then asks the central question to the film: Who is the wolf?
Similarities to the two films mentioned above run rampant through Red Riding Hood but the most apparent being that to the storyline of The Village. Here a small settlement surrounded by trees is also being threatened by unknown and terrifying monsters. Townspeople are seen fleeing to their homes during safety drills, a scene also in Red Riding Hood. However, M. Night Shyamalan does a much better job with The Village screenplay than David Johnson does with Red Riding Hood. Dialogue inadequacies are rampant throughout this most recent fairy tale. Characters frequently state the obvious (“I’ve seen it…with my own eyes) but then don’t say anything when an explanation would greatly improve the scene. There are too many unnecessary words in this film and when there should be dialogue, it’s missing. And look for an incredibly awkward “What big eyes/ears/teeth you have” scene. Johnson may have felt obligated to include this line but that made the film just that much worse. He could have left it out.
If director Catherine Hardwicke tried to make a film visually separate from Twilight, the effect was lost. Like Twilight, numerous shots of the snowy mountain range where the story is located make their way across the screen from the very beginning (I think I counted five shots in the first 30 minutes). It’s as if Hardwicke is saying: Isn’t this such a great place for a movie? We get it. You like making movies that are in the mountains. Can we please get back to the drawn out story?
Also, just like Twilight, we’re dealing with a young girl obsessed with the bad boy in town that her parents don’t approve of. Then, of course, there’s the supernatural tie-in that connects the two films. Both movies include werewolves but thankfully, no vampires enter into the world of Red Riding Hood.
Red Riding Hood is the classic whodunit with too much emphasis on the “who” and not enough on the “dunit.” As with all murder mysteries, suspects are around every corner and clues are given to help us try and figure it out. Unfortunately, too many hints were given. It seemed like every suspicious glance or quick camera movement was telling me that I should be paying attention to this or that character’s whereabouts or motive. It’s suspicion overkill. By the time I found out who it was, I didn’t care anymore.
There are some redeeming qualities in Red Riding Hood. I was never bored. There was always some action or plot point to keep my interest and the acting is of good quality. I just wish I could say the same for the rest of this mediocre movie mash-up.