Red Riding Hood
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this teen twist on Little Red Riding Hood from Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke is a romance-and-horror mix that's not for young kids. While there are no overt love scenes, there are several scenes of the main couple kissing, groping, and breathing heavily in each other's presence; at one point, the lead boy is about to undress his girl but is interrupted. But the sexuality pales in comparison with the violence, which is frequent and disturbing and features dismembered limbs, torture, and a high body count. What's more, the movie's overall message of "love conquers all" is buried beneath the dangerous-for-teens idea that if you love someone, you should be willing to leave your family and home to be with them.
What's the story?
Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) lives in a remote Italian village that's routinely terrorized by a werewolf. The villagers make do by sealing up their homes and leaving the wolf sacrificial animals during the full moon, but every now and then, the wolf kills. One morning, Valerie is told she's to marry Henry (Max Irons), the well-off blacksmith's son, instead of her heart's desire, Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), the hardworking woodcutter she's been friends with since childhood. Valerie and Peter decide to run away together -- but then the wolf strikes, killing Valerie's sister and prompting the town cleric, Father Auguste (Lukas Haas), to send for renowned wolf-hunter Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), who imposes a strict, ruthless rule over the town. When the wolf appears and speaks directly to Valerie, everyone believes she's a witch who needs to be sacrificed to the wolf. As Henry and Peter work together to save the girl they both love, the entire town turns on itself with suspicion.
Is it any good?
Director Catherine Hardwicke clearly loves exploring the angsty trials of adolescence. Her movies are a catalog of teens in transition from childhood to adulthood. Unfortunately, it seems that her two earliest films, Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown, were her best. Hardwicke's mistake here was to pick such a Twilight-like story -- gothic romance, love triangle, supernatural threat -- for her first post-Edward and Bella film. The cast is full of talented actors -- particularly Seyfried, Oldman, and Julie Christie as the grandmother -- but the result is still a combination of broody young lovers panting at each other while people all around them are killed.
It's doubtful that Hardwicke would expect audiences to heckle the characters, but that's exactly what's going to happen -- and in some ways it makes this predictable, overwrought horror-romance more enjoyable. Between the over-the-top performances, Fernandez and Irons' nostril-flaring looks of rage and jealousy, and the laughable climax, it's hard not to chuckle at unintentionally funny moments. Sure, there are some decent sweeping shots of the wintry, mountainous landscapes, but once the wolf starts talking, the movie feels like some bizarre, awful mash-up of Twilight and Narnia that will only be liked by young teens who crave a couple of cute boys to swoon over and some good kissing scenes. For the rest of us, it's just not enough.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the popularity of supernatural love stories. What makes them so attractive to teens? Do you think they portray a realistic view of romantic relationships? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding relationships.
Valerie tells Peter that she'd be willing to leave her town and family to be with him. Is that a good role model for teen relationships?
Did you find the violence in this movie scary? Why or why not? What's the impact of seeing violence in the media?