It has been three days since I saw Red Riding Hood and I’m still trying to wrap my head around just how bad this movie is.
Before I venture into any further analysis of its sheer and unspoiled badness (and not in a good way, mind you), I’d like to say a few things about me as a movie goer: By instinct, I want to like every movie. I understand the difference between a good movie and a bad one, naturally, and can at lengths discourse about assorted Criterion collection alums if needed, but I also want and like being entertained. Before they were art, movies were intended to be pure escapism and I cling to that theory pretty strongly. So, in the name of that cause I have seen many abominations DURING THEIR THEATRICAL RELEASE (waiting for a DVD to see a bad movie is basically giving up on bad movies): All About Steve, Just Wright, Made of Honor, all three Twilight movies (opening weekend), Mamma Mia, Eat Pray Love, et al. (and that’s just off the top of my head). So-I am not a wimpy person, I am not a particularly needy or whiny person, I try to look for good in people AND movies (see here and here for examples) BUT I still have to say:
RED RIDING HOOD IS THE WORST MOVIE I HAVE SEEN IN, WELL, FOREVER? (probably since “Queen of The Damned” or “Alexander” both of which compete for the conspicuous title of “the only other movie I walked out of”). And sadly, no, I did not walk out of RED RIDING HOOD but you know-details.
In case you didn’t know, here is the scoop: Catherine Hardwicke (who directed the super cool “Thirteen” and “Lords of Dogtown” back when and then went and made the first “Twilight” movie, which I think marked the start of her downward spiral), so I hear, was supposed to reimagine the Little Red Riding Hood into a more adult, gothicky tale starring (wait for it): Amanda Seyfried, Virginia Madsen, Julie Christie, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke (aka The Dad from Twilight) and two hot heartthrobs, ready and waiting for Robert Pattison style adoration: Shiloh Fernandez as the bad boy and Jeremy Irons’ son Max Irons as the good one (a waste of a gene pool, I say).
Now, with a cast and premise like that even if this shit was going to be bad, it was going to be the good kind of bad, right?: hilarious, over the top, with Gary and Julie chewing the scenery and some hot village make out sessions with shirtless boys as objects of desire (As seen by a middle aged woman, of course). RIGHT? WRONG.
First off-the production value/design involved in this “movie” is a joke: this gothic village in France (I think) looks like something BYT interns put together using papier-mache and silver confetti for snow. Then, the lighting is so obviously wrong, I can only begin to describe it: really cheesy vaseline covered, super soft focus bullshit which makes you think you’re about to be transported into a screening of “Emanuelle” and not into a 15th century forest (which is a shame because Hardwicke actually has a successful second career as a production designer).
Second-the script is a joke. Within the first 3 minutes of the movie Seyfried (on her own downward spiral after Mamma Mia, making nothing but the worst movies around (Dear John (?!) Letters to Juliet (?!?) Chloe (?)), which is also a shame since she showed such youthful promise in both Mean Girls and Big Love) lets the following words pass her admittedly amazing looking mouth: “I know good girls are not supposed to go into the woods by themselves, but ever since we were kids, he had a way of making me want to be bad” and while you’re still peeling that cheese that’s dripping off your screen as you read this, let me tell you-it only gets worse from there.
Third-the story is a joke in and off itself. Too literal, too obvious, too everything it shouldn’t be. I, for some reason, imagined that Gary Oldman, bless his heart, would be the (metaphorical) Wolf, prying young women of the village into the death of their innocence or something fun and sordid like that (I mean why cast Gary Oldman if you’re not going to have him be a hilarious, lecherous, deviant? No reason. That’s like hiring Jeff Goldblum to play a non-smarmy average guy or Ryan Reynolds to play someone who keeps his shirt on, madness!). But no-there is an actual (shitty, animatronic wolf) and the story starts, middles and ends as poorly and unimaginatively as you could possibly imagine.
Fourthly-the acting is a joke. My sneaking suspicion is that 2 days into the shooting, the seasoned cast caught on to the fiasco that they’d contractually committed themselves to and decided to simply phone it in, and escape as unscathed by this experience as possible. Every single character is a caricature, not one, or two but half dimensional with the boys, of course, being faced with the ungrateful grunt work of looking bland, moody and tortured, all in the studio’s desperate (and trust me, it feels desperate) attempts to create a new Twilight like phenom out of this. Well, they failed. Because, even though TWILIGHT is definitely crap at least it does not come off as taking itself that seriously (the movie, I know the books are taking themselves very seriously) and as such, it survives.
Watching TWILIGHT you giggle. Watching RED RIDING HOOD you just go “WHAT THE EFF?”. Consider yourself warned. Just rent Willow or something (though I hear that didn’t hold up too well to the test of time, so never mind)