I saw Red Riding Hood last night with my husband and some friends. It wasn't my first choice of movie, and I wasn't expecting a whole lot from it, but man, it really brought the pain.
In theory, it should have been good. A gritty, dark twist to a classic fairytale, werewolves (so in right now) and no Disney starlets. In practice, it was horrible. It really drew you in, too, with some epic, sweeping camera shots of snowy mountain ranges and this cute little Nordic-ish town nestled between them. Then the narration starts. Not narration that was needed, just narration for the sake of narration. As if the writers said, "I don't think the general populous would understand our deep, interwoven plot, so we better just spell it out for them." Lame. At that point, though, I was still willing to give it a go. That is, until the boy with the faux-hawk came on screen.
Rule number one when making a picture about ANCIENT civilizations: No faux-hawks. Sure, people back then had greasy hair as a consequence of sparse bathing, but they had not the precision scissors needed for his meticulously placed cut, not to mention NO ONE ELSE HAD ONE! If you're going to go hawks in a period piece, go all the way, or not at all. Am I right? Maybe it's an ancient Nordic-ish tribe that had some historical claim to the fauxhawk. But no, every other male character in the fucking movie had the straggly, matted hair dos you would expect from a period piece. LAME!
I have been saying Nordic-ish because, well, it is never defined as to what, or where these people are. They dress in generic "dark ages" garb (except, once again, for the lead male who somehow got a hold of something from Billy Idol's closet.) They eat mushy, goopy looking bowls of soup and bread. Their houses have thatched roofs, and it's snowing there pretty much all the time. Well, not all the time as, in the first scene, it's all springy and stuff, but then apparently they forgot which season they'd chosen. Ugh.
So are we more than one scene in from the movie? No? Ok. Well, already my ability to "suspend the disbelief" is growing perilously thin. The plot is that...well, as much plot as I could piece together from this film, is...Valerie, the main character, is in love with her childhood friend, Peter (obvious much? Peter and the wolf?) but her mother has arranged her marriage to a family that passes as "rich" in this society (which apparently means they're blacksmiths) and she's all moody and depressed about it, as her and Peter want to be together.
Now, from the beginning they really, really want you to think Peter is the wolf. He has a faux-hawk, he dresses completely in black, and, in a town where it's ALWAYS snowing, he's the only one who wears A T-SHIRT! This is the first of all the many red herrings this movie throws at you. They're like, "oh look, it's totally peter, no wait, it's totally her angry fiance, oh no, it's this guy who's only had about 30 seconds of screen time!" I am pretty sure they just used an episode of Scooby Doo as their outline for writing this thing.
*Sigh* I am getting bored by this movie just writing this blog. I'll just hurry it along with a couple key points so we can lessen the pain and suffering.
One big thing is the rivalry between Peter and Henry (the arranged fiance) is hardly rivalry. From the beginning Valerie picks Peter, and stays with Peter the entire movie. Not much drama there. The guys throw scowly, angsty looks at eachother, but that's about as bad as it gets. You would think, since they're trying to make Peter the hero of this story, that they would paint Henry as some kind of flawed person. Entitled, selfish, mean, or maybe just annoying. No, Henry is a genuinely good guy. He's actually a lot nicer to Valerie than Peter is. WHAT?! Who the fuck are we supposed to be rooting for? There are two dreamy guys, both willing to put themselves in harm's way to protect, save and marry Valerie. Peter is the rebel without a cause, and Henry is sweet, kind, and a damn good blacksmith. What's not to love?
Anyway...I seriously think this movie shouldn't even be called Red Riding Hood. They just kind of throw a red cloak in there for no reason whatsoever. Her grandmother just kind of gives it to her. It plays no role in why she is who she is, it's only mentioned one other time, and that's when another villager is accusing her of being a witch. "She wears a red cloak!" the crowd lets out a huge gasp of horror...HELLO, she's been wearing the damn thing practically the ENTIRE MOVIE! SHE HARDLY TAKES IT OFF THE WHOLE TIME! Where were these towns people for three quarters of the movie? So yeah, it's basically just a nice, eye popping wardrobe piece that could have been taken out of the movie all together and it would have made no difference.
Another problem I had was the religious aspect. The movie makers were trying to go for some form of christianity with crosses and the whole shebang. Their religious leaders being "fathers" and whatnot. But the rituals and practices of the town seem to be a lot more pagan in origin. Everyone prays to god when the wolf comes to get them, then drink and dance and have weird, confusing lesbian encounters in the middle of town square. Make up your mind! They didn't use religion to solve the wolf problem or anything. It was just kind of there, needlessly.
I do have to say that the set design was very pretty in this movie. It reminded me of forest sets from 80s fantasy movies. So fantastic and different that you couldn't help but just like them. Sadly, the horrible story and the ridiculous inconsistencies with the time period were so brash and unapologetic, that the set does absolutely nothing for me. They even end the fucking movie with a musical montage of Peter and Valerie walking around the mountains with her red cloak (which magically grew 20 feet) trailing behind in the wind.
There is no resolution in the end. Henry doesn't get the girl, and for as much as they built him up in the movie, they just kind of brushed him aside at the end. The town goes back to the way it was, even though there's no wolf now. But they still offer the sacrifice every month. STUPID! Oh, and btw, her dad was the wolf the whole time. They don't even give you a good explanation of why he was so desperate to turn Valerie into a wolf and take her with him. (Implied incest?) "We'd be invincible" really only works in Saturday morning cartoons.
The writers thought they would try and keep you guessing by just throwing a bunch of red herrings at you. They literally tell you who to suspect then entire movie, which just made me think, "I probably shouldn't suspect that person. They're pushing it waaay too hard." In my opinion a good mystery thriller doesn't need to throw suspects at you. If it's written right, you will find people to suspect on your own, without any painfully obvious hints. Pretty much the only person they didn't imply was the wolf at one point in the movie was her father. Hey! Guess who the wolf was!
Yeah, basically, fuck Red Riding Hood. This movie was terrible. If I knew I was going to waste my money THAT much, I would rather have seen Beastly. (Which is another rant entirely.)
When it comes out on DVD, I say yes, rent it. Get some friends together, have some drinks (at least two) and pop it in. Sit back, and enjoy the pure hillariousness of this film. DO NOT, however, pay ten dollars to see it. They take themselves so seriously, it's very, very funny. There's even a moment where you're supposed to believe that comically large mandolins are playing electric guitar cords...HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
On a scale of 1 to 10, Red Riding Hood gets epic fail.
Don't forget, comic necklace winners are going to be posted tomorrow! But for now, goodnight and good luck.