Movie Review: ‘Red Riding Hood’ is new twist on old tale

By Ebbie Davis

For years Hollywood has been retelling well-known stories. It is said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” It says nothing about creating new ways of portraying the stories that are already soaking in the rays.

Most children were read tales and stories of years long ago, where animals talked and dragons guarded castles withholding the princess from the brave prince. One story passed down from generation to generation is that of a little girl with a red cloak and a big bad wolf. Known as one of the scarier childhood tales, “Little Red Riding Hood” has been passed down for over 700 years.

From Catherine Hardwicke, director of “Twilight,” comes a new twist on an old tale. “Red Riding Hood” is a thrilling fantasy starring Amanda Seyfried as the leading character, Valerie. Hardwicke has developed this children’s story into a motion picture portraying love, hate and a challenging synopsis.

“Red Riding Hood” is similar to most romantic teen movies in today’s society. The beginning is predictable and what some might call corny, due to the introduction of characters and storyline. The two co-actors to Seyfried were unknown actors who not only played an opposing role from one another, but Hardwicke also cast them to look opposite from one another as well, just like she did with the two leading male characters in “Twilight.” There were several similarities between the two films, yet at the same time “Red Riding Hood” definitely held its own when comparing plots and story lines.

The story is set in a village outside of a dark forest. Valerie is the daughter of a laboring father and strong-willed mother. Her parents have arranged for her to marry Henry, the son of the most wealthy family in the village, but Valerie only has eyes for her best friend Peter, a poor woodcutter she has loved her whole life. Trying to stay together, Valerie and Peter decide to run away together. However, at that opportune time the legend of a monstrous werewolf became more than just a fable as the beast attacked Valerie’s older sister and killed her.

Plans to run away vanish with this abrupt death and Henry continues to pursue Valerie as his fiancée. The villagers seek revenge on the werewolf only to discover that he or she is one of their own. This causes betrayal and distrust throughout the village, making everyone question the integrity of all regardless of how well they are known. Valerie has the ability to speak to the werewolf, yet does not know the beast’s true identity. This plays with her mind and causes her to constantly have to decide who she can trust and who she cannot. The suspense builds through the duration of the film and comes to a subtle end.

The storyline was interesting to follow, after the introduction the predictability lost its power; it definitely keeps one guessing the entire movie. Throughout the story the viewer is trying to decide whom he or she thinks the wolf is. It is possible for one to switch back and forth between characters consistently through the 1:45-minute movie and still be wrong at the end. It is refreshing and rare to find a movie that can throw a curve ball anymore.

The synopsis of this movie is targeted toward the teenage demographic. Although young adults can still enjoy it, the film is another love, thriller, werewolf movie directed toward the same audience as previous movies in this genre.

“Red Riding Hood” is a tangled web of drama consisting not only of love and decisions, but also of betrayal and death. One begins to wonder if there is going to be a cast by the end of the movie because of all the deaths occurring in the village. The wolf kills people left and right, but so do the villagers — people turning on each other and betraying friendships and even family because of the lack of understanding of what was happening in their community.

The movie has well-done graphics and lighting sequences. The filming was somewhat shaky yet had good cuts and action scenes. Having a generated creature like a werewolf is somewhat difficult to pull off, but the “Red Riding Hood” team did it well.

Although I am not going to rush to the stores to pick up this movie when it is released on DVD, I do not regret going to see it. It made me guess and had an interesting twist in the plot. I rate it a 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.