Melodrama plagues the remake of a fairy tale

by Carmen Splane

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Courtesy of  Warner Bros. Pictures

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

A wide-eyed Amanda Seyfried pouts and fawns her way through what could have been a welcome addition to the laundry list of fairy tale remakes. Instead, “Red Riding Hood” is a laughable attempt at a sexy psychological thriller aimed toward the profitable “Twilight” crowd. In a shameless attempt to woo teens to movie theaters, Warner Bros. attempts to ride the coattails of the “Twilight” phenomenon, even hiring the same director used in the franchise’s first film, Catherine Hardwicke.

Cynicism aside, the plot is nowhere near as faulty as the acting and camera work. Climactic moments are highlighted by enough dramatic close-ups and passionate stares to rival a daytime telenovela. In this whodunit set in medieval times, villagers are harassed night after night by a werewolf bent on total destruction. When the killings escalate, men of the village gather at the obligatory tavern to plot obligatory revenge. They decide to hunt down the werewolf themselves and with the help of a little liquid courage, they set off into the night, torches ablaze.

When the villagers realize they have bitten off more than they can chew, they are forced to solicit the help of Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), a self-proclaimed professional “werewolf catcher” armed with his own band of tall, dark and brooding followers. Sashaying around with silver fingernails and a velvet purple suit, Father Solomon looks more like a Prince impersonator than a village savior. Father Solomon warns the villagers that the beast is in fact one of them. Everyone has their own suspicions as to who it could be, and this causes rampant betrayal and finger-pointing.

The trailers boast beautiful wide shots of Valerie (Seyfried) with her red cloak billowing in the snow-covered mountains, and for the most part, the similarities between this film and the original tale stop at the wardrobe. To keep the “Twilight” crowd interested, the writer throws in random attributes to the characters that don’t do much for the storyline, Valerie’s grandmother sports dreads, her father is a heavy drinker and, in true teen drama fashion, she falls in love with the dangerous bad boy. Even more disheartening is the way the true identity of the wolf is revealed to the audience.

The twist ending is more like a game of connect-the-dots in which the director does most of the work, explaining frame by frame how the real werewolf kept their identity hidden from the other villagers. All of that being said, the film is somewhat entertaining, though not the least bit thought-provoking, which may have been done purposely because the film’s target audience, teens, will be on their phones throughout the entire movie anyway.

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