It is, perhaps, plausible that a film directed by Catherine Hardwicke, produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and starring Amanda Seyfried might have made for a half-way decent adaptation of the classic fairytale, Little Red Riding Hood. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, something has gone horribly, horrible wrong.
Red Riding Hood drops the ‘Little’ and replaces the child of the traditional Brothers Grimm tale with a young woman, although she keeps her red cape. That said, Seyfried is the perfect image of medieval innocence as Valerie, and the beginning of this film makes the most of its beautifully snowy setting. Sadly, there is only so long one can spend watching Valerie twirl around in the snow, exchanging looks of forbidden love with a handsome woodsman names Peter, played by Shiloh Fernandez. Eventually the plot has to kick in, and this is precisely where is all starts to go downhill.
Hardwicke has obviously learnt a thing or two from her Twilight days – mostly that all good heroines should spend the majority of their time moping around trying to choose between two equally gorgeous young men, at least one of which should be a little bit dangerous. It’s a tough life for Valerie, even more so when she finds out she won’t be able to spend quite so much time rolling around in dimly lit barns with Peter and must instead marry a wealthy blacksmith called Henry (Max Irons). Of course, Henry’s got to be horribly ugly or unbearably mean or something, right? No, he’s just a really nice guy, who understands that she probably isn’t in love with him, but hopes she’ll marry him anyway. Oh…
However, the villagers have bigger things to worry about than this unconvincing love triangle – they are under attack from a wolf. It all gets a bit Beauty-and-the-Beast-meets-Agatha-Christie, as Valerie’s sister is found dead, and the villagers decide the wolf is amongst them, and decide to kill the beast.
Seyfried steals the show, and certainly does her best to remain wide-eyed and delicate as cliché after cliché unfolds, but it’s not a patch on her comical stupidity in Mean Girls, or even her lovelorn character in Dear John. Julie Christie is cast as Valerie’s grandmother, and whilst she might be the one on the other end of the “What big eyes eyes you have” malarkey, anyone who’s ever seen any of the Twilight films will know that she’s unlikely to transform into a wolf any time soon.
Among this year’s abundance of fairytale adaptations and re-imaginings (Snow White and the Huntsman, Sleeping Beauty, Jack the Giant Killer etc) this sexed-up tale of village superstitions and wintery lust just doesn’t cut it. The Twilight comparisons are embarrassingly obvious, and without a pasty Pattinson and his vampire friends, Red Riding Hood is unlikely to interest even the most teenage of audiences.
Red Riding Hood is out on DVD in the UK now.