Red Riding Hood (2011) – Review

Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?

The Brothers Grimm receive the Hollywood treatment under Catherine Hardwicke’s steady directorial hand. As the mountain hamlet of Daggerhorn cowers from the vicious wolf, they reach a truce of sacrificing their best livestock during full moons to keep it at bay. However, when the wolf breaks this uneasy armistice by taking the life of one of the villagers, they decide to take on the beast once and for all.

As they turn to the famed Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), notorious werewolf slayer, the village comes under renewed attack whilst being oppressed by the ruthless Solomon. When Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) discovers she can communicate with the wolf, and that the beast has designs for her, the village turn on her for what they deem as witchcraft in her signature red hooded cloak.

Amidst this, Valerie is caught within a Twilight-esque love triangle between wealthy Henry Lazar (Max Irons) who she is arranged to marry, and her childhood sweetheart, the broody outsider Peter (Shiloh Fernandez).

This plot plays out predictably, but, with the audience engaged by the carefully constructed ‘whodunnit’ of the wolf’s identity, the film does not notably suffer. Seyfried embodies her role well, torn between the ambitions of her family and damned by her villagers for having a clear tie to the beast. Seyfried’s performance is comprehensive, showing a sultry, brave and playful side as necessary.

She is supported ably by Oldman, whose tyrannous turn as Father Solomon is convincing in leading the villagers to cower in fear of him as much as at the wolf. Her love interests also provide solid performances with Fernandez playing the lover her family disapprove of. Irons impressively counters as both an emotional and compassionate opposite, desiring only Valerie’s happiness.

The narrative is supported by Hardwicke’s directorial prowess, intertwining her notorious eye for an attractive shot, specifically the wolf’s point of view camera angle which is pivotal in the creation of suspense and suspicion.

The feature in its entirety is a carefully developed reworking of the classic children’s tale. In transforming a short tale into a full length cinematic reworking, the film stays true to the majority of the original plot with some deviations accounted for by artistic license. Packaged in Hardwicke’s appealing directorial style, Red Riding Hood is a delicately crafted portrayal which succeeds in updating the tale for the silver screen even if the love triangle seems a lighter instalment of the Twilight saga.

Best line: ‘If you’re the wolf, I’ll kill you… If you’re the wolf, believe me, so will I!’
Best scene: The climactic revelation of the wolf’s identity which keeps the audience guessing until the very last second.
Best performance: Amanda Seyfried – Although difficult to portray the innocent title role, Seyfried even manages to work in a sultry and mischievous side to the character.
Watch if you liked: The Twilight Saga.

Discussion feed

Up next in movies