Here we are, only three months into 2011, and already we've gotten three films that have attempted to mimic the success of the "Twilight" movies. First there was I Am Number Four, where the sexy vampires were just switched with sexy aliens. Then, just a week ago, we were burdened with Beastly, a gothic mishmash between "Twilight" and the classic Beauty and the Beast story. Now comes the mother of all "Twilight" rip-offs: Red Riding Hood. I don't know who suggested taking this beloved fairytale and contemporizing it with beautiful teenage virgins overwhelmed with sexual urges. All I know is that this person must have had an incredibly deprived childhood.
This is a film that imitates "Twilight" every chance it gets, from the shots of tall forest trees, to the full moon, to the hipster soundtrack, to the uninspired love triangle. To top it all off, the director of Red Riding Hood just so happens to be Catherine Hardwicke, who made the first "Twilight" movie. It's as if this movie wasn't even trying to distinguish itself with a shred of originality.
The red riding hood of the story is Valerie, a young woman played by the usually charming Amanda Seyfried. Ever since she was a little girl, Valerie has been in love with Peter, played Shiloh Fernandez. Peter is the spitting image of Edward Cullen with an untamable, jelled up head of hair. As a matter of fact, every male in this movie seems to have a modern hairdo and perfect skin tones. That's a tad odd for a movie that is apparently set in the middle ages.
Now growing out of adolescence, Valerie wishes to marry her beloved Peter, who works as wood chopper. But Valerie's parents believe that Peter is too poor for their daughter. They'd rather her marry a wealthy young man named Henry, played by Max Irons, who works as a blacksmith. I don't know much about whatever time period this movie is intended to be taking place in. But I'm fairly confident that the salary of a woodchopper is on par with that of a blacksmith.
Romance will have to be put on hold, however, because a dreaded werewolf has murdered Valerie's underdeveloped sister. To finish off the wolf once and for all, the village calls upon Father Solomon, played by Gary Oldman. Oldman is a gifted and almost always interesting actor. Here he gives a genuinely dreadful performance where he seems to be channeling both Christopher Walken and William Shatner. This really isn't Oldman's fault. He obviously just took a look at the script and said, "Screw it. I'm just going to go over the top and do whatever I want. Nobody gives a crap."
Another wasted talent is Oscar-winner Julie Christie as Valarie's grandmother, who lives by herself in the middle of the woods. In one of the most bizarre dream sequences of recent memory, Valarie wakes up to find her grandma awkwardly lying next to her. Valarie delivers the classic line, "What big teeth you have." Her grandma then replies, in a man's voice, "The better to eat you with, my dear!" I'd like to sit Hardwicke down and ask her, "Was this scene honestly intended to be taken seriously or were you trying to be hilarious?"
As awful as Red Riding Hood is, I will give it this: The film is a lot of fun to purely make fun of. Perhaps Red Riding Hood could even develop a "so bad it's good" reputation like Troll 2 or Plan 9 from Outer Space. When the movie comes out on DVD in a few months, maybe rent it with a good friend and the two of you can have a couple of good laughs. This is by no means a recommendation for Red Riding Hood, but it's the closest thing this film is every going to receive from me.