Monday, March 14, 2011

Movie Review: Red Riding Hood

So I realize I haven't reviewed a movie I didn't like, but that's because I know how to pick 'em...for me anyway! I know what I like and can pretty much tell if I'll enjoy a movie or not. It's not often though that a movie will surprise me, regarding the plot and how much I enjoyed it. This movie was a huge surprise. I loved it, and you should go watch it.

I was drawn to "Red Riding Hood" because of the twisted take on this classic fairy tale and because of its star, Amanda Seyfried. I think she's an actress to reckon with.

I'm not a fan of horror or thrillers, and I almost backed out of watching this film because it does look like a scary movie. It's definitely not for kids. But there is just the right amount of fear throughout the entire film. There's also death and bloodshed but not gore. There's a healthy dose of paranoia, and I love what the director did with the eyes. If you watch the movie, you'll know what I mean.

Amanda Seyfried plays Valerie (the girl in the red hood). Valerie lives in tiny village plagued by a wolf, that requires a sacrifice every full moon. Valerie is in love with Peter, a woodcutter (played by Shiloh Fernandez), but it's arranged that she marry Henry, a blacksmith (played by Max Irons - hah, irons and a blacksmith - what are the odds). On the day the Valerie and Peter decide to run away together, the wolf kills Valerie's sister. After years of not taking human life, the wolf struck and the men of the village take up arms to kill the wolf. Enter Father Solomon, renowned for ridding villages of creatures of the dark. He informs the village that the wolf is not just a wolf, but a werewolf whose human form resides in the village. And one night, Valerie finds out that she has a connection with the wolf.

There is one thing I didn't quite like while watching the movie, but I now appreciate in retrospect. Julie Christie plays Valerie's grandmother, and there were times when the movie forces the idea that Grandmother is the werewolf. There's a moment when Valerie wakes up and goes to her grandmother's bed, wondering and watching. Then Grandmother shoots up straight to a sitting position, wide awake, and chirply says goodmorning.  *Spoiler* the Grandmother is not the werewolf, but that notion is visted over and again. In retrospect I remember that, in the fairy tale, the wolf dresses up as Grandmother almost fooling Little Red Ridding Hood. So in retrospect, I understand why this movie forces that idea on the audience. And they do a pretty good job considering I considered the idea that Grandmother is the werewolf. But not enough to make you want to stop pulling for her.

This movie will keep you guessing. Who is the wolf?  I didn't see it coming, but I wasn't blindsided by the answer either. I was drawn into the paranoia and Valerie's journey.  The actors and actresses were all oh so expressive.  The costumes and setting transports you to that tiny village in a year seemingly frozen in time. This movie combines elements of the fairy tale and new ideas very well.  And teaches some lessons that ought to be remembered.  Lies and deceit have consequences.  Friends may not be friends at all.  Those who are different are not always guilty.  Even the innocent have secrets to hide.  And when your mother tells you not to talk to strangers, but you live in a village where everyone knows everyone, exactly who are you supposed to avoid?

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