Monday, 19 March 2012

Red Riding Hood (2011)

Red Riding Hood is an American/Canadian dark fantasy film directed by Catherine Hardwicke, produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and starring Amanda Seyfried as the title role, from a screenplay by David Leslie Johnson. It is very loosely based on the folk tale Little Red Riding Hood collected by both Charles Perrault under the name "Le Petit Chaperon Rouge" (Little Red Riding Hood) and several decades later by the Brothers Grimm as "Rotk├Ąppchen" (Little Red Cap).

The Plot

Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) lives in the village of Daggerhorn, on the edge of a forest plagued by a werewolf. The villagers sacrifice livestock so that the wolf won't prey on them, but then Valerie's sister Lucie is found dead. The outraged villagers manage to kill a wolf, but soon a priest arrives, Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), who tells them that a slain werewolf would revert to human form, and their werewolf is still on the loose. Meanwhile Valerie's mother, Suzette (Virginia Madsen), has arranged her marriage to Henry (Max Irons), the son of the wealthy blacksmith Adrien Lazar (Michael Shanks), and persuaded Valerie's childhood friend and would-be lover, a poor woodsman named Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), that he should let her go if he really loves her. Valerie's grandmother (Julie Christie) consoles her granddaughter by giving her an early wedding gift: a beautiful red hooded cloak.

When Valerie sees her mother grieving over the blacksmith, slain in the werewolf hunt, she learns that her mother loved him before she married and that Lucie was his daughter, unknown to her father Cesaire (Billy Burke). The villagers celebrate that night, refusing to believe the priest's warning, even after he explains that during the blood moon - which is happening over the course of these three days - anyone bitten by the werewolf is cursed to become one. Valerie pursues Peter to confront him about rejecting her, and after a romantic interlude in a barn, they are separated and the werewolf attacks. The wolf confronts Valerie and her friend Roxanne (Shauna Kain) and both are horrified to learn that Valerie can not only speak to the werewolf, but can understand it when it speaks to her.

The next morning, Father Solomon kills one of his guards that was wounded by the wolf, despite his brother's objections. Solomon insists that all the cursed men must die. Henry tells Valerie he had seen her with Peter and they call off their engagement. Solomon insists that wolf is one of the villagers and begins to search all their homes. In the process, Solomon discovers Roxanne's autistic brother hiding and accuses him of witchcraft, stuffing him in a Brazen Bull when he will not give them the name of the werewolf. Roxanne, hoping to free her brother, tells him that Valerie spoke the language of the werewolf and accuses her of witchcraft. Solomon releases the boy, though he is traumatized and catatonic from the experience, and Valerie is offered as a sacrifice to appease the werewolf, but Peter and Henry rescue her. The wolf comes, but is unable to cross holy ground to enter the churchyard where Valerie and Henry had gone for sanctuary. Solomon tries to force Valerie to leave and in the conflict the wolf bites his hand off. The guard whose brother was killed by Solomon tells him, "A man bitten is a man cursed," before killing him. Everyone realizes that Valerie was innocent since she was able to take refuge on holy ground.

Valerie suspects Peter is the wolf, injures him and flees to her grandmother's house, but is greeted instead by her father using her grandmother's voice. Cesaire reveals that he is the werewolf and that all in his bloodline can speak to him. When Lucie, not born of his blood, could not understand him, he realized that she was not his child and lost control. He offers Valerie an opportunity to become a werewolf as well, each generation being stronger than the last one, but when she refuses he tries to force her. Peter returns and the two men have a furious struggle. Peter is bitten and then knocked out, but Valerie manages to kill her father using the dismembered hand of Solomon which, as a precaution had been lined with silver fingernails by Solomon himself. Peter, realizing he was bitten and will be cursed to become the werewolf, but instead of killing him, Valerie helps him dump Cesaire's body in the lake and he rows away. He promises to return when he has controlled the beast within, and Valerie leaves Daggerhorn and moves into her grandmother's cottage, awaiting the day Peter returns. Henry leaves with Solomon's troupe to hunt werewolves and other creatures while Valerie's mother, having given up on Cesaire's return, returns to a normal life as well. One night, Valerie sees a werewolf, and smiling, looks to the future.

In the alternate cut of the film, before Peter leaves, he and Valerie make love together and later in the movie when Peter returns, Valerie is holding hers and Peter's daughter.


The film received mainly negative reviews. The film currently holds a 11% rating on critic aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus being "Amanda Seyfried is magnetic in Red Riding Hood's starring role, but she's let down by her uninspired leading men and a painfully cliched script."Metacritic gave the film a score of 28 out of 100. USA Today complimented the production design, but wrote "it's a foolish story, marred by a strange blend of overacting and bland, offhand performances."Roger Ebert gave the film one star out of four, stating it is "a movie that cross-pollinates the Twilight formula with a werewolf and a girl who always wears a red hooded cape, although I don't recall her doing any riding.... it has the added inconvenience of being serious about a plot so preposterous, it demands to be filmed by Monty Python."Mary Pols of Time magazine named it one of the Top 10 Worst Movies of 2011.

The Cast

Amanda Seyfried as Valerie
 Gary Oldman as Solomon
 Billy Burke as Cesaire
 Shiloh Fernandez as Peter
 Max Irons as Henry
 Virginia Madsen as Suzette
 Lukas Haas as Father Auguste
 Julie Christie as Grandmother
 Shauna Kain as Roxanne
 Michael Hogan as The Reeve
 Adrian Holmes as Captain
 Cole Heppell as Claude
 Christine Willes as Madame Lazar
 Michael Shanks as Adrien Lazar
 Kacey Rohl as Prudence
 Carmen Lavigne as Rose

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