Movie: Red Riding Hood

"Red Riding Hood" starring Amanda SeyfriedAm I late to the Red Riding Hood party?

I’ve been doing a lot of watching lately, and one of the most recent movies I’ve seen is Red Riding Hood. Yesterday, actually. So I’m not even going to try and make a recommendation, as by the time you read this, the movie might not even be in theaters anymore.

But I want to write about the movie as I thought it was something worth having a discussion over. So I am hoping that you, dear reader, will comment with your own opinions about the movie after reading this. That is, if you’ve already seen the movie, which I hope you have.

If you haven’t, here’s a warning: spoilers ahead!

Red Riding Hood is a retelling of a folk tale: about a girl who goes to visit her grandmother’s house in the woods only to be met by a wolf in her journeys. The very child-friendly version has the wolf only wanting to get what’s in red riding hood’s food basket. The more well-known version has the wolf stalking red riding hood so he could eat her (after he ate her grandmother. in one swallow.) There’s a lesson there somewhere.

The movie’s version of the folk tale seems to be having an identity crisis. One one hand, it wants to remain faithful to the original material–which it does; red riding hood still goes to her grandmother’s house in the woods, she still meets the wolf who pretends to be her grandmother, and a woodsman still saves her and kills the wolf. Except in this version, there’s an icky incestuous undertone. Oh, and the wolf is actually a werewolf–which makes sense, if you think about it.

Red Riding Hood centers on Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), the girl who wears the titular red riding hood. She is in love with Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), a woodcutter like her father, but is engaged to marry Henry (Max Irons), the blacksmith’s son. While the main narrative of the movie is involved in the mystery of the werewolf’s identity, the love triangle that forms between Peter, Valerie and Henry is also tied tightly into it–more so when the werewolf talks to Valerie and asks her to run away with him, because he’ll take care of her.

Thing is: Peter also asked Valerie to run away with him, and Henry had promised Valerie that he’ll take care of her.

When werewolf hunter Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) arrives and tells everyone that the werewolf is one of their own, the fear that everyone is feeling gets amplified. And Valerie begins to wonder if one of her suitors is actually the werewolf. The only clue she has is that the in human form, the werewolf’s eyes are brown.

Like her grandmother’s, father’s, the village priest Father Auguste’s, and even her friends.

I would have liked the answer to the mystery more, actually, if it weren’t for the aforementioned incestuous undertones. The story is pretty solid, and the characters are all pretty much three-dimensional. The only thing I really had a difficulty liking was the Twilight feel of the movie.

The main narrative had to do with the werewolf–why does it feel like there are way too many scenes with Peter and Henry sizing each other up? Eventually in the story, they end up working together–and neither one likes it as they suspect each other of being the werewolf–but that doesn’t need to be established in more than one scene! The fact that they’re both in love with Valerie is enough of a reason for them not to like each other!

Oh, and the hard-headed female protagonist who gets into trouble for being special? It reeks of Twilight‘s Bella Swan. I mean, she’s not the only damsel-in-distress who ends up doing something brave later on, but Valerie’s character really feels as if she came from the same mold as Bella–which I didn’t like.

And it’s the same with Peter and Henry. Peter is broody, pretty much a loner, and isn’t the one Valerie’s parents want for her. And Valerie is in love with him. Henry is the likeable boy who is charming and eager-to-please. The two sound familiar?

Again, the three are pretty much characters that have appeared in so many different movies and television programs and books, so I really can’t say that they’re ripped off Twilight–but the treatment they’re given really does have the same feel. Then again, if I’m not mistaken, I think this movie has the same director as the first Twilight movie. Maybe that has something to do with it?

Oh well. I don’t regret watching the movie; it wasn’t a waste of time. But had something more interesting been showing in theaters, I might have asked to see that something else.

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