I have to admit to some not inconsiderable trepidation before checking out this film. Reinventing Red Riding Hood on the coat-tails of teenage fodder like Twilight (it has the same director) didn’t exactly fill me with excitement.

That’s not to say a new version of Red Riding Hood couldn’t be as dark as its oral orgins, where early retellings feature murder, disembowelling and even cannibalism.

So two out of three of the aforementioned is quite a good show and there is plenty of drama. With the theme of sexuality realised by luminous beauty Amanda Seyfried in the title role, and a leading man who could out-pretty his Twilight counterpart, RPattz, any day of the week (Shiloh Fernandez), this is a dark, sensual and historical reimagining set in an achingly lovely fairy-tale world, complete with werewolves and witchcraft.

Yet a film needs much more than visuals to entice so does it deliver?

Well, the teen girls sat next to me certainly thought so, screeching like banshees at the slightest hint of peril – which had the adult members of the audience grinding their teeth in annoyance.

Something that also set my teeth on edge was Gary Oldman, who re-enacted his Dracula role as a werewolf hunter, displaying so much cheese and ham that he might as well have been replaced on screen by a croque monsieur.

Blackadder fans may remember an early epsiode entitled The Witchsmeller Pursuivant. Oldman has obviously seen it as he did a fine impression of Frank Finlay’s Witchsmeller. I even half expected him to thrust forward a black cat called Beelzebubbles or accuse a poodle of witchcraft. I think someone should have reminded him that while Blackadder is a comedy, Red Riding Hood is most definitely not.

(I have been asked to point out by outraged friends that Oldman’s ‘comic’ performance was the best thing about the film. Oh well, whatever floats your boat.) This version looks fantastic and is suitably entertaining, with a nice twist at the end. But, ultimately, it fails to satisfy. Maybe that is because I am the wrong audience demographic – it was clearly tailored to Twilight-friendly teens who believe author Stephanie Meyer is the grand mistress of supernatural horror.

Is it worth watching? Well, if you scream hysterically at the mere mention of the name Justin Bieber, descend into ecstatic ecstasies whenever Dappy releases a new single, yet show a nose-in-air disdain for most films made before 1960 (it’s black and white, innit, where’s the 3D?), then race to the box office asap.

Otherwise, I’d wait for the DVD.

Red Riding Hood is on general release from Friday, April 15.

Reviewed by Lumin.

 

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.