At a very early age, we are introduced to stories that seem, at one level, to be appropriate for kids. We do this because the stories often involve elements of make-believe that we know will be destroyed as the child grows older. However, when you examine the stories, they are not innocent kiddie fare, nor were they intended to be.
We label them as fairy tales so that we feel better about subjecting kids to images of death, betrayal, and abuse. As much as people have given Disney grief over the years, old Walt & Co. knew they had to rewrite some endings to justify appealing to kids. Heck, even Stephen King wrote a famous article for TV Guide, where he made the very credible argument that Bambi was more horrific than some of his more famous novels.
Then the late 80s came, and with it, the need for everything to be darker and closer to real life. We saw it in our comic books and started seeing it more in movies. To make a fairy tale in the traditional sense meant to sugarcoat everything and have a happy ending. However, throw in period sets/costumes and blossoming special effects, and now you can get into the cool, scary part of the tales. This also applied to traditional monster movies.
However, much like other genres, movie-makers became so reliant on effects and looks that the story suffered. How many were disappointed by the 90s’ versions of Dracula and Frankenstein? Van Helsing didn’t derail Hugh Jackman’s career only because he was in the middle of his run as Wolverine. Throw in a movie about the Brothers Grimm a few years back and The Wolfman last year – is it any wonder that most sensible audiences roll their eyes when they hear the marketing wheels turning about another movie that has a “new spin on an old classic?”
Enter Red Riding Hood.
I had not planned on seeing this movie, but an old high-school friend, Jackie, and her daughter, Alex, were in town checking out colleges. I met them and another high-school friend, Jimmy, at Universal Studios for the day. After the fun was done, we headed over to the CityWalk 20 to see what was playing. Red Riding Hood fit the start time and in we went.
The plot centers on a village that has been plagued for years by a wolf. After a senseless death, the townsfolk rise up and start hunting the wolf. What seemed to start off in an interesting fashion soon devolved into predictable story-telling and poor pacing. I liked the introduction of the idea that it was a were-wolf, not a normal wolf, haunting the town. As much as I enjoy Gary Oldman onscreen, he was unfortunately given very little to do that was interesting. The story comes to a tragic end, and I realize that even the writers got lazy. Rather than crafting a good story, the writers and director ended up pulling in plot devices geared to attracting the “Twilight” crowd. As much as I have actively avoided those movies and books, I couldn’t help but feel like I had been suckered into watching Twilight Lite. The main positive is that the cast executed what it was given in a good manner.
My advice: Check it out on cable; save the money for some other real gems out there…