The re-imagining takes places in a village plagued for two generations by a werewolf. The villagers, fearful, keep it at bay by sacrificing their best livestock at every full moon, and it’s been many years since it killed. Red riding hood now has a name: Valerie, and is the daughter of a woodcutter engaged to be married to a man she doesn’t know or love. She, in turn, has fallen for another young man of the village, and I begin to wonder if I have sat down in the wrong screen.
With the first wolf murder in over a decade, the tone of the film abruptly changes. First there is grief (albeit a little unconvincing) followed by a thirst for revenge. The villagers go into the hills to find and kill the wolf. A wolf. They return to the village with a wolf’s head on a stick, triumphant.
The wolf kills again, and the moon is full, and the scene is set.
Suspense, drama, a wonderful use of sound and a dark feeling of suspicion cloud this film like a dense fog. It is persecutory: trust no-one, especially the different, and catch the wolf regardless of the cost. People are guilty until proven innocent. Anyone who stands out could be the wolf – the solitary, the mentally challenged. Anyone else.
Speaking critically, there’re one or two plot-holes that are never filled, and I found the ending somewhat weak – a crying shame as a duly climactic finish to such a tense film would have made for a much more positive experience. Amanda Seyfried is wooden, and indeed much of the acting is limited to the bland and banal. There are some sections of the film which seem to have been shoehorned in – the whole ‘My, what big eyes you have.’ sequence of dialogue is so artificial it’s painful to watch. Despite these failings and the let down of the end, I still enjoyed the overall experience. The celebration scenes are masterfully done –in every shadow, behind every mask lies the wolf, don’t leave the people, stay hidden, be afraid. The feeling of fear and paranoia was where I derived my enjoyment during the film – the insubstantial permeation of threat in every scene, every glance from every man, woman and child in the village.
In conclusion, it’s not a revolutionary masterpiece (a shame: it had potential). Despite this, I had a good time even with the lacklustre ending and sub-ideal acting. It has problems but not everything is perfect and at least this was an attempt at something interesting – more than can be said for things like I Am Number Four, for example.
6/10. Cautiously recommended.