In a nutshell: Insipid sub-Twilight fantasy

Popcorn rating: 0/5

Little Red Riding Hood: it’s a creepy old fairytale, isn’t it? And I’m a sucker for a good old lycanthropy-as-a-metaphor-for-coming-of-age story, two of my favourites being Neil Jordan’s dreamlike Company of Wolves and the low-budget Canadian shocker Ginger Snaps, so I thought I’d give Red Riding Hood a go.

Unfortunately, Red Riding Hood, directed by Twilight’s Catherine Hardwicke, has about as much depth as, well, Twilight.

Red Riding Hood is set in a mediaeval European village in which everyone is spotlessly clean with porcelain-white teeth, speaks in a nasal Californian twang and is coiffed and made-up as if for an American Apparel advert. The cliché-ridden dialogue is a monstrous offence to the ears and probably the scariest thing in the film.

This theme-park MediaevalWorld™ is pestered by a werewolf – which occasionally sprints in and kills someone, but this being a film rated 12, it does so in an inexplicably tidy, gore-free fashion. So far, so yawn-inducing.

Then priest Gary Oldman turns up from nowhere, overacts in a silly accent and tells the villagers that the werewolf must be one of them. Everyone gangs up on the village idiot for no obvious reason, and then it’s left to the too-perfect-to-be-true Mary-Sue of a heroine, Valerie (yes, Valerie – that really is her name. Her friend’s called Roxanne. Like, totally mediaeval, right?) to save the day.

The rest of the plot is a pile of guff not worthy of relating, but suffice it to say that the message overall is that the most important thing in life is to have a brooding, sexy boyfriend, even if he’s a potentially dangerous killer and you have to leave your home and your family to hang around for him until he works through his issues. Oh, and there’s also a thinly-veiled true-love-waits metaphor about learning to control the beast within.

Red Riding Hood is badly acted, badly directed and badly written. It’s not fun, it’s not creepy, it’s not romantic, it’s not dark, it’s not anything except appalling on every level. The special effects are rotten, most of the sets wouldn’t be out of place in panto, and the whole package spreads a horrible misconception that dropping everything for a ‘misunderstood’ brooding pretty boy means you’re twuly in wuv. One day, perhaps we’ll stop peddling this poisonous drivel to teenage girls and give them something positive to watch. In the meantime, strike this DVD off your daughter’s LoveFilm list.

Reviewer: JoSheppard

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