In 1984, Neil Jordan’s The Company of Wolves explored the Freudian psychosexual themes of the Red Riding Hood fairy tale. In 2011, Catherine Hardwicke’s Red Riding Hood explores that story’s capacity for cheesy CGI effects, fake exteriors, bad acting, and oafish dialogue.
Hardwicke’s debut feature, Thirteen, showed promising talent, which she has since squandered on the Twilight series, from which this movie borrows its supernatural teen-angst theme. And period authenticity be damned – characters talk like modern high-schoolers. You half expect them to start texting.
Set in a medieval village plagued by a werewolf, the none-too-bright residents bring in Father Solomon (Gary Oldman, spectacularly hammy), a werewolf hunter who imposes a reign of terror to root out the wolf, a scruffy CGI creation that has a special interest in the red-cloaked Valerie (Amanda Seyfried). The villagers are urged to inform on their neighbors, and Valerie wonders: is the wolf one of her interchangeable suitors, or maybe her grandmother (Julie Christie)? By the end of this incoherent exercise in teen-pandering folklore, you won’t care. --Pamela Zoslov