Red Riding Hood

RED RIDING HOOD In a wintry woodland in an unspecified time long, long ago, teen beauty Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) is arranged to marry brooding, hunky, rich dude Henry (Max Irons), but is plotting to run away with brooding, hunky peasant Peter (Shiloh Fernandez). Then — bummer! — Valerie's sister is eaten by the werewolf that besieges their village, thus forcing our heroine to weigh her own budding libidinal desires against supernatural forces beyond her control. Sound familiar? Directed by Twilight franchise launcher Catherine Hardwicke and shot on clunky-looking sets embellished with garish digital effects, Red Riding Hood is a cheap attempt to cash in on that vampire series' massive success. Red Riding Hood, like the Twilight movies, is geared to the just-pubescent demographic: Hardwicke lovingly shoots a medieval bacchanal as if it were a movie prom, while Valerie's encounters with the CGI wolf are cartoonish when they should be chilling. Where the Twilight films play the material dead straight — maybe the only way to sell the notion that a teenage crush could be epic life-or-death stuff is to refuse to admit that there's a joke to be in on — Red Riding Hood veers between monotonous, soapy seriousness (the bickering of the boy rivals, various impassioned confessions) and camp (Julie Christie's growling Grandmother, Gary Oldman's bombastic professional wolf hunter — who rides into town towing a giant iron elephant). Give credit where credit is due, I guess: Red Riding Hood's sequel-baiting ending breaks new ground in endorsing mortal danger as a teenage aphrodisiac. (Karina Longworth) (Citywide)

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