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Zia McCorgi by Cooner

"Spill it, Short Legs!"

The Journal of Zia McCorgi

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Red Riding Hood [Movie Review]
Zia McCorgi by Cooner
So yesterday I saw Red Riding Hood in theater, well the dollar theater, with my friend Serina.

Overall reaction: fun film. Not a great film but any stretch but it had fun parts and some good moments. Interesting style choices the setting was sumptuous and cool looking. The red cloak was cool. the werewolf effects were amazing.

The concept of the movie: the famous fairy tale of Red Riding Hood has been done a lot. We've seen a lot of movies and styles of the story and reworking parts. A werewolf movie or three has at least alluded to this one so its not really original. At least in that respect. It is original in how it uses the setting and elements of the story some of the characters are really interesting.

First of all the werewolf effects were incredible. No transformation scenes sadly. However the wolf itself looked otherworldly and creepy while still wolf like. A real threat in appearance and yet interesting, compelling, and jut cool. Seeing it rip through the crusading knights was just cool. The wolf not only comes off as a threat, an alien force of nature, but just looks so good. They weren't afraid of the effect and while yes its obviously CGIed it looks really good and a lot better then I was expecting.

Really nice use of the story elements as well to draw out the story and give it a creepy effect. Just some nice effects there. Especially the big ears big teeth scene.

The setting itself is beautiful in parts looking like a true remote dark ages town and in parts a fairy tale world of dark grim shadows. Rich colors pulse from the screen next to dirty wooden buildings. Flowers dot the area and little trinkets to ward away evil spirits spot the landscape. The church looked very cool with the door. Nice aspects of underlining how this werewolf has worked its way into the community's iconography. It has a very nice creepy aspect that sets the stage. Swooping scenes over mountains and in the deep forests are entertaining too. Grandmother's house is just delightful to look at.

The Grandmother: I loved this character and she steals the show for me. funny, brilliant and uncompromising she over powers every scene she is in. She just does some great bits and says some good lines. she also perhaps does the best acting.

Red Riding Hood/Valerie: she grew on me during the story at first I found her a little annoying and almost an annoying plot contrivance to move us from one scene to another but over time she grew on me growing in complication and interesting moments. She herself I think has some good moments. The final talk with the werewolf, the attempt at the deal at the church, and other bits made her more multi dimensional. She isn't really a tough girl, which wouldn't fit the setting, but she isn't a wilting violet there to be saved. She has some agency to herself and it works. She really does sell the "coming of age and losing your innocence" aspect delightfully. Amazingly actually. If the story had focused purely on her discovering her sexuality and the lies and contradictions from those around her, the lies that nearly destroy the town, this movie would have been a lot better.

The music was alright. It had a weird tinny effect to it. A little modern but at other times anachronistic. The party scene when they think the werewolf is dead really fit the dark medieval setting while being a celebration and part rave. the music really sold it with true traditional instruments along with guitars and singing int he background. Again that otherworldly aspect. I wasn't completely sold on it but it had its moments and it wasn't over bearing it just tinged the scenes in parts. The party scene was really cool though.

The crusaders/inquisition were neat they had a foreign experienced feel something other and outside the town. The leader comes off as a zealot as the movie progresses and just as vile and evil as the werewolf (who is evil as well but for different reasons). They both try and make excuses for their murderous ways and their behavior too. Spoiler: this werewolf essentially has full control of his faculties in this movie. Which means he consciously decides to commit these murders. There might be bestial instincts goading him on but a lot of this deals with his choices of victim and that falls into the under developed mystery aspects.

The violence: for a movie with a werewolf they could have gone the splatter rout. Instead they went with just a little blood and not too much focus on the wounds or bites or more disturbing aspects. They move quickly through the attacks not letting us linger over the pain and suffering. Instead it just becomes more intense as if we're running from the wolf as well who we don't always see in full. The movie is horror, a lot of deaths, but its a lot more about the mystery the paranoia and the romantic angle.

The romantic aspect is where the movie falls apart for me. Valerie is supposedly in a love triangle with two men. Peter and Henry neither of whom look like big strapping woodsmen or blacksmiths they're a little more bishi and pouting. They get their brood on a lot. Its also clear where this storyline is coming from and it feels crowbared into the movie. It also feels rather silly. Its obvious and clear who Valerie likes and her feelings never change in the film. not once are we given any reasons why Valerie would really go with the other guy and its clear her character will doing the hollywood thing and defy the odds to be with the actual love interest. We don't even see the two male leads really fighting each other too much or working against each other. I honestly also expected them to start making out with each other at one point.

Scenes dealing with that romantic angle take up big slices of the movie but they seem so very pointless. It also detracts from the Red growing up story and the mystery/paranoia aspect as it spends too much time trying to convince us Valerie will go for man number two when obviously she won't. I chalk this up to the utter failure of all three actors trying to deliver this.

The mystery part, always a major and fun thing to a werewolf movie (who is the wolf? follow the clues) is anemic in this movie. Its there and fun in parts but the pay off is lack luster and we didn't get enough scenes setting it up or really pushing the characters a bit more. Flashing a few faces on screen does not actually make us think they are responsible. None of the behavior fits either. Really the reveal, while a cool idea, was a let down. We had no chance of getting there and the huge clue of "no werewolf can trod on holy ground" is used late and when you see the human side of the wolf blithely walking into the church a few times some questions are raised.

That said it had some nice cinematography and there were some beautiful scenes. This could have been a lot better but it would have been worse too. The actors are generally trying to sell it and they do a decent job. I just think it needed a lot more work. The story needed to be tightened on one theme (mystery/romance/growing up). It had some very cool parts.

A fun movie but not one I'd beat the door down to see. Not worth a $10 movie ticket and will probably work on a small TV screen but a decent enough film to watch if you get the chance give it a look but don't spend too much on it.