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Red Riding Hood (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 100 minutes.

OK for children.

This isnít the Red Riding Hood I remember from childhood. Itís much better. It also isnít the horror film that advertisements would lead you to believe. In fact when I checked into my screening I asked if it would scare me. One lady said yes and the other said no. The ďnoĒ was right. Itís not a scary movie.

Even though itís not particularly scary, it is an entertaining movie with fine performances all around, but especially by Julie Christie as the Grandmother with big eyes and Amanda Seyfried as Red Riding Hood. Red is in love with a woodcutter, Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), instead of the choice of her mother (Virginia Madsen), Henry (Max Irons).

They all live in an isolated village in the forest living in fear of a werewolf who occasionally forages and kills people. This is basically a mystery; who is the werewolf and why is it doing what itís doing? A werewolf killer, Solomon (Gary Oldman), is brought in to find the answer. He conducts an Inquisition-type investigation of which Fra Savonarola would be proud, even though nobody is actually burned at the stake (which was the fate that also befell Savonarola, dying by the sword with which he lived). Oldman gives a fine performance, but the person who stands out is Christie, who looks terrific and acts better.

There are lots of clues incriminating most of the characters. Director Catherine Hardwicke and writer David Johnson do a good job of leading the viewer to and fro before the final dťnouement. I thought this a fine mystery helped by mystical cinematography (Mandy Walker) and production design (Thomas E. Sanders) of the village isolated in the middle of the forest .

As a postscript, I think the producers have made a big mistake advertising this film as a scary horror film. I donít think they could figure out whether they were making a Twilight knock-off or a horror film, when, in reality what they were making was a mystery. Iíve had many people ask me if itís a horror film when I tell them how much I enjoyed it.  From what I can determine by the way people are reacting, they are staying away because they think itís something itís not. Those that stay away are missing an entertaining film with fine acting and ambience.