Thoughts on Film
by Max Bowen
Who’s afraid of the big, bad, wolf? Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves the textbook definition of a rhetorical question. Why? Well, let’s take a moment and learn about our friend, the wolf. In case you can’t tell, I’m being sarcastic here. The wolf is never our friend, nor should they be treated as such. In fact, I see them as Nature’s way of telling us to screw ourselves with a surgical laser. Wolves average 41-63 inches long, 32-34 high, and weigh as much as 85 pounds. They’re pure muscle, armed with razor-sharp fangs and claws, and have flesh-tearing, bone-crunching, murderous rage dancing the Lambada in their heads 24/7. Oh, and they hunt in packs, using coordinated attack patterns to bring you down. If these things had wings and a larger brain mass they’d be ruling the world in a week, 10 days, tops.
As terrifying as this concept may be, it’s nothing compared to the beast featured in Red Riding Hood, directed by Catherine Hardwicke and produced by Leonardo DiCaprio. If Satan had a demonic pooch guarding his fiery homestead, it’d get eaten by the nightmare in this movie.
The film follows Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), a young woman living in the village of Daggerhorn, which is plagued by a wolf. It seems the town has a pact with the beast: they leave it a goat or a pig on the night of a full moon, and in return the wolf doesn’t turn them into cold cuts. Personally, I would just move to Florida. I’ll take gators and Mickey Mouse over wolves any day of the week. However, when Valerie’s sister Lucy is found minus a few organs, the townspeople feel understandably slighted that the wolf hasn’t kept to the arrangement. Hey, it’s spelled out clear as day in Paragraph Seven: No eating people, even if they’re stupid enough to go out on what is affectionately known as Wolf Night.
They send out a party of hunters to take down the creature and, surprisingly, fail miserably. When it becomes clear they can’t take down this monstrosity, they bring in another monstrosity - Gary Oldman, who reprises his role of generic villain with a penchant for dramatic speeches. Oh, he also carries around his dead wife’s hand. You’d think that thing would start decaying after awhile, but no, it’s nice and plump. He quickly turns the villagers against one another by revealing that the wolf could be one of them, and sets up camp with his band of wolf-hunters, who seem about as capable of bringing down the beast as I am of lassoing a cyclone with dental floss.
Amidst this wolf-hunting and Oldman-style drama, Valerie is torn between two would-be lovers—Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), a local woodcutter she’s been friends with since childhood, and Henry (Max Irons), a rich doofus she’s been betrothed to. He’s good with a smithy’s hammer, but not so slick at wooing the ladies, as quickly becomes evident by Valerie’s desire to mount Peter like a deer’s head the second they’re alone.
All in all, this movie is an interesting twist on an old children’s tale. The love triangle doesn’t dominate the story, and in fact weaves itself nicely with the plot, that being the numerous attempts to turn the wolf into a nice rug for Oldman’s living room. Seyfriend gives an impressive performance, though the remainder of the cast fail to shine as brightly. Oldman manages to stand out, though only by completely overdoing his role time and again (and again and again). The sudden turn in the story caught me by surprise, and while the ending is a little cheesy, I’ve seen worse. The setting for this film, the wooded depths of Vancouver, was perfectly scouted. The village’s location right next to a deep, dark forest creates the perfect atmosphere, and gives us a feeling of foreboding throughout the film. As long as you don’t expect a whole lot, you won’t be asking for a refund.