Man. There’s something about werewolves, isn’t there? It’s basic human psychology to want what you can’t have, and there’s nothing more unattainable than paws, claws and fangs. At least, this is the reasoning that Catherine Hardwicke, director of the first Twilight movie, relies on with her latest, Red Riding Hood. And she’s not entirely wrong – especially when the object of affection is a tall, dark, brooding social outcast with bad-boy edge and knitted eyebrows. And let’s be honest, that’s always going to be the case in her movies. This week’s Spoiler Alert is on the magazine-glossy, dark and mysterious bastard child of the Brothers Grimm story we all know and love. I watched Red Riding Hood so I could save you hours of post-movie Hardwicke-esque sighing and sulking. You’re welcome.
The movie is crammed with beautiful people and Gary Oldman. This is a perfect role for Amanda Seyfried, whose pairing of blonde hair and creepily-huge vacant doe eyes will never allow her to play anything but an innocent, slightly dimwitted tease. She’s not the femme fatale or the ass-kicking brainiac; at best, her characters will surprise us if they have a single good idea. As Valerie, a.k.a. Red Riding Hood, she’s a male’s plaything, torn between two brooding gentlemen and kicked around like a little puppy by the rest of the men in the town. Her primary love interest, Peter, played by Shiloh Fernandez, which I guess is Spanish for Robert Pattinson, is a mysterious woodcutter who lurks around the forest. Their love affair is interrupted when two things happen: Valerie is forced into engagement with Henry, some rich pushover in town, and her older sister is killed by a werewolf. Shit’s gettin’ real at this point. To deal with the werewolf, the town enlists the help of Gary Oldman, a totally deranged werewolf hunter who reeks of child molestation charges and illicit drug-fueled paranoia.
No problem, right? If you have mice, you dial an exterminator. If you have a werewolf lurking around your ‘hood, you call in Gary Oldman. It would be as simple as that if everyone in this town wasn’t completely batshit nuts. Literally all they do is stagger around glaring at each other suspiciously, murder small bunnies and make up shit about werewolves.
“A werewolf always changes back into human state after they die.”
“If you’re bitten by a werewolf under a blood moon â€“ but only under a blood moon â€“ you become a werewolf.”
“The only way to kill a werewolf is by stabbing it in the heart with silver.”
Where do you even get this freakishly specific information? I didn’t know Google existed in the medieval times. And everyone is so fucking sad in this movie. Smiles and jokes are only doled out during drunken celebrations, like when the townspeople think they’ve killed the werewolf after hunting down what appears to be the only wolf in the entire forest.
Anyway, it doesn’t matter because the werewolf comes back and Gary Oldman starts his mad ranting again, telling all the townspeople to start suspecting each other and randomly shoving children into boiling cauldrons. Don’t worry, it’s all werewolf-prevention.
Maybe I’ve been writing this column for too long so my standards are slowly diminishing. There’s a lot I could say to shit all over Red Riding Hood â€“ the dialogue is flatter than Amanda Seyfriend’s chest, every character is one-dimensional, there’s really weak chemistry between the characters who are supposed to be in love, and on top of that, it’s pretty degrading to women. But this movie was never intended to be a cinematic triumph â€“ it was supposed to be a mystery filled with beautiful people with open collars trudging around in snow.
The only thing you were ever supposed to do was sit there, watching these characters skulk around and keep wondering who the wolf is â€“ and in that regard, it’s a success. Plus, you pick up a few tips for avoiding werewolves along the way.