In Catherine Hardwicke's directorial take on the original fairy tale, surprisingly produced by Inception's Leonardo DiCaprio, the audience sees the tale of mountain village-life unfold in the small town of Daggerhorn...wait. What was that word again? Daggerhorn...sounds like Dammerung, doesn't it? Exactly. Dammerung is the German word for...you guessed it: Twilight. Catherine Hardwicke directed, Twilight, the 2008 film about a girl caught in a supernatural heterosexual matrix...or, for those of you who don't read, a love triangle involving a vampire and a werewolf.
Shocker--Red Riding Hood is about the same thing--minus the vampire, that is. But that's not all...the "Bella" character in Red Riding Hood, played by Amanda Seyfried, shares the same actor-father as Bella, Billy Burke.
Daggerhorn's similarity to the word Dammerung is also a connection to Neitzsche's Twilight of the Idols or Gotzen-Dammerung. Part of Neitzsche's explorations in his book discussed how the "true world" became fiction. Seeing any connections? The idea behind both Twilight and Red Riding Hood is an attempt to translate what is normally thought of as fiction into the "true world," our reality. And largely, the body of vampire, werewolf, and other supernatural fiction on both page and screen have done just that. But frankly, this little philosophical side-note gives too much cohesion (and credit) to writer, David Leslie Johnson.
David Leslie Johnson wrote the screenplay for Red Riding Hood; his other accomplishment includes Orphan...one which of the producers was Leonardo DiCaprio...the plot thickens. Actually, it doesn't. And that's part of the problem.
There are a great many attempts at foreshadow, at allusion, at a cohesive storyline creating a sense of magical realism--sadly, all of these attempts simply miss the mark. David Leslie Johnson should have hired The Pop Culture Professor as his script-doctor. Well, there's no turning back now.
The visual story also attempts to bring together loose threads in what was meant to be a rich tapestry of allusion, including naming one of the characters Peter--as in Peter and the Wolf. Ugh. Early cinematography is a dizzying display of mountainous pines and valleys. If you're prone to seizures, avert your eyes. Later cinematography puts too much obvious emphasis on the eyes of the various characters in an attempt to confuse the audience as to the human identity of the wolf. And who was responsible for all of that? Aussie Mandy Walker, who's filmed commercials for the likes of Nike and worked with Baz Luhrman on his epic, Australia.
Nice girl--very talented--but that doesn't change the often jarring cinematography, which only served to highlight the overall lack of cohesion in the storyline. And yes, Hardwicke is equally responsible for the problems in the film.
I shant speak too much of the acting; this type of film is a kind of slush-pile pick-up filling in between post-Oscar season and pre-summer blockbusters. The actors don't need to put on much of a show...just show up. Gary Oldman is a favorite of mine; in his particular style, he did try to work with the material provided to show a very flawed character who, naturally, was put in a position of great power and subsequently, abuses it: Like roasting a challenged boy alive in the belly of an elephant-shaped oven. Disturbing...but the wrong kind of disturbing for this particular movie. Again, that was a script-issue that really needed to be edited prior to filming.
On the Housel-scale, Red Riding Hood receives a generous 6/10. Generous because the film is probably closer to hitting only 30% of the marks it tried to target, but at least the theme was supernatural. And in a sea of otherwise uninteresting film options, the supernatural still sells.