Thursday, 21 April 2011



This is one of those utterly baffling movies that just makes you wonder what they thought they were making: goodness only knows what possessed studio execs to finance a live-action monster movie based on a bedtime story for kiddies, with occasional if discrete moments of blood and gore. Since it's from the director of the first Twilight film it's perhaps understandable that it's a sugary confection in which a teenaged girl is torn between two hunky young males, and there's a supernatural dimension rendered in a visual style so soft and twee that the entire movie has the weight and the texture of an Angel Delight. Sometimes the focus is so wispy that you have to look at the cinema's Fire Exit sign to confirm your eyesight isn't failing you. Because it's so frothy and flyaway, it is literally like watching it through a gentle hazy snowfall of icing sugar, and this visual style defuses (not to say diffuses) the horror element to the point where it looks like a Christmas card, complete with specks of glitter drifting off.

The very title tells you the basis of the plot. Amanda Seyfried is Red Riding Hood: aka Valerie, eligible young woman in a remote European village named Daggerhorn, on the edge of the dark forest in the 14th Century (according to the trailer; there's no date given in the film). But the area is at the mercy of a werewolf: it usually leaves the villagers alone, placated by the occasional sacrifice of livestock. Until Valerie's sister is brutally slain by the beast, and as it's the time of the Blood Moon, any of the villagers could be the werewolf. They hunt the wolf, they call in monster-hunter extraordinaire Father Solomon (Gary Oldman, the only one in the cast not using an American accent) and, while Valerie is torn between her hunky betrothed and her hunky true love, the monster speaks to her directly.... Might Grandmother (Julie Christie) know anything?

There are a few scenes of gore and violence: a good jump moment early on, and some nasty scenes of torture in which Oldman seeks the name of the wolf's human form by sealing his captives inside a giant steel elephant. And the rest of it is all very pretty and light as a meringue - they even manage to work in "what big eyes you have"! - and it also has the same Twilight idea of the beast in true and perfect love with the beauty but fighting his own nature not to hurt her. Like the werewolf itself, the film is nice and presentable on the surface, and occasionally goes mad. But in the end it isn't really successful and you may well come out of the movie feeling a little bit sick from all the sugar.


No comments: