The story of Red Riding Hood is 700 years old. A number of versions emerged from inception to now.
Sometimes the word “little” is added. Many times not. Some stories are violent. Others sanitized.
Many have made their way to film as live action and animated features. One — done in the 1930s — is a comedy that has the wolf and grandma falling in love and getting married.
This version of Red Riding Hood is a Twilight clone that is part horror story and part Harlequin romance. Neither is that appealing.
The story is a mystery centering on Amanda Seyfried’s Valerie. She is in love with Peter, but her parents want her to marry a bit higher on the social food chain so they pair her with the village blacksmith.
Once the love triangle is set, the horror story begins.
For years the villagers have kept the wolf at bay by feeding it animals. Then the wolf ups the ante and kills Valerie’s sister. That sets up the mystery. Someone in the village is the wolf. Little animals aren’t enough now. The wolf wants a human sacrifice — or else!
To solve the mystery, a church big whig specializing in other worldly doings is summoned. As expected, he casts an evil eye on everyone, tortures the villagers and causes nearly as much chaos as the wolf.
Like the three Twilight productions, Red Riding Hood is a five-minute fairytale with nowhere to go. It implodes almost immediately.
The characters are so shallow they make Twilight’s personalities seem ocean-deep. Seyfried and her co-stars are pieces stuck in cardboard sets and never do anything that isn’t 100 percent predictable.
Gary Oldman is cast as the tormentor from the church. He’s done this character so many times that he can do it in his sleep. Ten minutes after the introduction of his character, you may suspect that Oldman actually is asleep. You can be assured he isn’t, but most of his facial expressions, mannerisms and lines are — as always with this character — over the top.
Oldman’s lines are unintentionally laughable as are those of the other lead characters. And the scene where Seyfried actually has to utter the, “Grandma, what big teeth you have, etc.” lines is bad on a classic scale.
No doubt encouraged by the success of Twilight, the producers hired Catherine Hardwicke — who did the first film in that series — to helm Red Riding Hood. Hardwicke is a competent, and sometimes even inspired, director. She’s a former production designer and art director. Her film is artsy and has style.
Style is one thing. Story is another. Even with the always excellent Julie Christie doing grandma, there isn’t much Hardwicke can do with writer David Johnson’s soap opera script.
Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes, violence. It opens Friday, March 11 at the Carmike 12 and the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.