Friday, August 5, 2011

Dollar Bin Horror Review:Red Riding Hood(2011)

By Eric Polk-
Deliver me from Twilight hell. Because that is what you are getting with this film: a slick, melodramatic POS, hackneyed love story sub-plot complete with stiff acting and dialogue.

Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) lives in the village of Daggerhorn, which is on the edge of a haunted black forest. As a child, she developed an affinity for hunting and sneaking out when she was told not to for a boy who she grew to love, a woodsman named Peter. Despite her feelings, however her mother Suzette and father Cesaire disapprove and instead promise her to wed Henry  the son of the wealthy blacksmith Adrian Lazar. For years, the small village had been plagued by a werewolf who comes out at night, feeding only on livestock that the villagers put out as a sacrifice so it does not turn on the humans for prey. Things change when Valerie's sister Lucie (Alexandria Malliot) is found dead; slain by the werewolf. Several village men leave to hunt the beast where they believe it to live, they encounter a vicious wolf but not before Adrian is murdered in its den. Meanwhile, Valerie's grandmother consoles her granddaughter by giving her a wedding gift early; a beautiful red hooded cape.

Taking the wolf's head back to Daggerhorn, they decide to celebrate their liberation, but Father Solomon(Gary Oldman), a priest experienced in werewolves, having had to slay his own wife to protect their children disproves their theory that it is the actual werewolf as upon its death a werewolf would revert back to its human form. The villagers ignore this. Valerie learns afterward that her mother had been in love with Adrian years prior to meeting her husband, and unexpectedly had given birth to Lucie as a result, but Cesaire has been kept in the dark on this. During the celebrations that night, Valerie confronts Peter for rejecting her after being pressured by her mother to do so, after they share a romantic interlude in a barn, they are separated and shortly after the werewolf attacks; slaying many villagers and injuring one of Solomon's guards. The wolf confronts Valerie and her friend Roxanne and are both horrified to learn that Valerie can't only speak to the werewolf, but can understand when it speaks to her. The one clue provided to the wolf's identity is the color of his eyes, which look brown as human eyes.

The next morning, despite the guards brother's objections, Solomon kills the injured guard. Having explained previously that during the blood moon; which is happening over the course of three days, anyone bitten by the werewolf is cursed to become one. And all cursed men must die. He instigates an investigation into the villagers' homes, deducing that the wolf is hiding among them. In the process, they discover Roxanne's autistic brother hiding and accuse him of witchcraft, stuffing him in a Brazen Bull when he does not relinquish the name of the werewolf and Henry tells Valerie he had seen her with Peter and the mutually agree to call off the engagement. Roxanne, hoping to free her brother from his torture agrees to give up Valerie's name as a witch and the secret of her being able to understand the werewolf in exchange for him. Solomon relinquishes her brother, though traumatized and catatonic from the experience. Valerie is made to wear a wolf-like mask and offered as a sacrifice to appease the werewolf's demands, but Peter and Henry rescue her. The wolf comes, but is unable to cross holy ground to enter the church yard 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, exacting revenge for his own brother tells Solomon "A man bitten is a man cursed, and cursed men cannot live" before killing him.

Due to the circumstances of Peter's disappearance from the night before and a glove where an injury the wolf had gotten when he tried to cross onto the church grounds, Valerie begins to suspect him. She attacks 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 and Peter is 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. Peter realizes he had been bitten and too would be cursed to become the werewolf. Instead of killing him, however he and Valerie dump Cesaire's body in the lake and then consummate their relationship before finally parting. Peter promising to return when he has controlled the beast within. Valerie moves out of Daggerhorn and into her grandmother's cottage, awaiting the day Peter returns. Henry having gone with Solomon's former troupe to face werewolves and other creatures, while her mother, having given up on Cesaire's return returns to her normal life as well.

If you are a fan of MST3K, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, or Monty Python and the Holy Grail, oh please have your riffs out for this. This more of the same Hollywood tripe that was been sprung on us in the last decade or so. I mean the gore is ok at best, but that's it. This movie is made for Twilight degenerates and anyone who hasn't seen a real adaptation of Red Riding Hood such as...


Marvin the Macabre said...

Gotta say, Red Riding Hood is a huge guilty pleasure for me. I can't argue that it's not a POS (Point of Sale?), but I definitely had a blast watching it.

There were several unintentional laugh-out-load moments, such as the village celebration where Valerie bumps and grinds with her friend to make Peter jealous.

The identity of the werewolf is projected 10 miles away (I had it figured out 20 minutes in), and yeah, it smacked heavily of Twilight. But still, I can't put my finger on quite what I liked about it. Maybe I'm just a sucker for werewolves, or Amanda Seyfried, or Gary Oldman gulping down scenery without bothering to chew.

And yeah, there are much better adaptations of Red Riding Hood. I've been in love with The Company of Wolves for years.

Okay, this isn't much of a defense of the film, but I thought I'd offer a descenting opinion.

Marvin the Macabre said...

And yeah, that should be "dissenting." Cave Crawlers on the brain, I guess.

Tim said...

I saw this in the theater with a couple of friends 'cause we thought it'd be a scary, serious take on the old tale. Disappointment pretty much sums it up. All of us came away feeling ripped off. And the Twilight parallel is right on. Weak sauce ya'll.