The trailers for the film lead us to believe this is a love story interwoven into the classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood. And it is. But the trailers are also a bit misleading in the way they seem to put sensual twist on the story. That makes the movie appealing and Amanda Seyfried is no stranger to the erotic thriller. But the trailers lie. There is nothing sensual about this thriller, as we should surmise from the PG-13 rating.
I’d seen the crappy reviews this movie had gotten from 89% of the other critics prior to seeing this so I had the advantage of not having the sensual thriller expectations. I do hate when the trailer promises one kind of movie and the movie is actually a different genre.
Red Riding Hood is a Werewolf thriller, with a bit of teen and plenty very adult social drama.
Once we establish the proper genre, the movie sucks a lot less. In fact it’s pretty good. It’s not the pinnacle of the werewolf movie genre, but better than average. There are some solid performances in the film. Amanda as the titular character, Valerie, is outstanding. Gary Oldman is also great as Father Soloman – he must have had some input as to his lines as they seemed a little higher quality than the other dialogue. The other actors were okay, but though I liked the film I have to admit there were several scenes where the dialogue was bad enough to be off-putting.
Valerie’s two male love interests were just boring, especially when they shared the screen. Peter, played by Shiloh Fernandez, spends about half the movie with a creepy brooding stare. It’s supposed to be brooding, given the plot, put could have been a bit less creepy. Henry, the other love interest seems too polite, too good and too boring.
Sci-fi fans will recognize Battlestar Galactica’s Michael Hogan in his role as a town leader. He played it well. They’ll also recognize Stargate’s Michael Shanks, but he doesn’t get enough screen time or lines.
Julie Christie as the grandmother is a pleasant addition and Virginia Madsen does a good job with bad dialogue as Valerie’s mother.
Honestly, the vast majority of the dialogue is just fine and delivered well. There are a few very clunky scenes that stand out as bad.
The action is not action film style, but horror film style, but it’s a werewolf movie, so its fine. I’m more of an action film aficionado. The CGI big-bad-wolf leaves a bit to be desired. I totally understand why they did it the way they did. A solid black wolf is difficult to display as more than a black blob without adding unnatural texture to the coat. Unfortunately the unnatural texture looks, well, unnatural, even allowing for the supernatural nature of the wolf.
The dramatic plotlines are well crafted and we have multiple antagonists each with their own believable reasons to be acting against the will of Valerie.
The identity of the werewolf is well hidden and simultaneously well hinted at. For the whole movie we think it could be anyone, but upon the reveal, we see that we could have seen it all along.
Three out of Five Stars. Worth the time and money to see as long as the expectations are not for the sensual thriller but for the horror/drama that it is. Seeing Amanda is worth it for her performance alone.