I’m done, guys. I have detected a pattern, and I am not seeing another movie with Billy Burke in it for the rest of the year. Or possibly ever. He’s in all these movies that are obviously bad, but *should* be bad in an entertaining way. But they are not entertaining! They are just boring! They are full of possibilities for campy dialogue and crazy plots, but do they go there? No, they do not.
Red Riding Hood had potential. It’s directed by Catherine Hardwicke who also wrote and directed Thirteen, the cast includes Gary Oldman as a werewolf-hunting priest, and the cinematography looked gorgeous. In the stills, anyway. I rarely see trailers.
Plus, it had a number of key elements that at the very least could point to some excellent camp melodrama. Werewolves! Excessive cleavage! A love triangle! Adultery! Almost-incest! Bondage! Torture! Trees and houses with spikes on them for no apparent reason! Gary Oldman *and* Lukas Haas as priests! BSG’s Colonel Tigh! AN IRON ELEPHANT THAT IS AN OVEN AND ALSO A PRISON.
And yet. It was astonishingly dull. The picture opens with a flashback to two thirds of our love triangle as bloodthirsty youth, and then we are rushed forward, soap opera-like, aging them up so they’re old enough to have sex. They live in a village! At the edge of a deep dark woods! And Amanda Seyfried is in love with the penniless lad wot she grew up with, so of course she has been promised to Jeremy Irons’ son instead. (His actual son, that is; Jeremy Irons is not in this movie. Unfortunately.)
Thus, we have a love triangle. Hooray? Except it is totally a chemistry-free love triangle. And who has time for love anyway when there is a werewolf at large? A werewolf who has been around forever and yet! Has suddenly started breaking its deal with the village and killing people instead of tiny pigs or whatever the villagers have left out for him/her/them! Terribly ungrateful.
Naturally, Father Lukas Haas calls Father Gary Oldman, werewolf hunter and object of Haas’s giant man-crush, who shows up with a goon squad made up entirely of actors of color (in case you were wondering where they were in this lily-white production), the aforementioned iron elephant, and an amazing manicure. Oldman tells us that his wife had been a werewolf (HELLO REMUS ILU BB) and so he has Expert Knowledge in the Pain and Suffering when the Curse is on Someone You Love.
Part of his expert knowledge is a bit of Plot! We are currently in a blood moon! Which means this is the only time the werewolf can make new werewolves! And it will be a blood moon for THREE NIGHTS.
At which point I sigh heavily, because obviously there must be Three Nights of Movie Remaining and I perhaps did not bring enough coffee for this.
And so it continues. Characters wander around the village for no apparent reason until the plot rams them into each other. We’re told that it is very cold, but there is no knitwear! We see sweeping shots of glorious mountains, and fog mysteriously gathers only in the graveyard. Actors who have previously demonstrated talent are apparently replaced by robots. (Seriously, Virginia Madsen. What happened?) People die, but no one seems to care very much. Gary Oldman puts on a weird accent, but also delivers the greatest line of the whole picture: “Lock him up! In the elephant!” Which is possibly the only memorable line at all.
The audience thinks about who the werewolf obviously is, and then thinks about how the movie could be so much more interesting if it was one of the other characters instead. Some people fell asleep. Would that I had been so lucky.
The cinematography *was* pretty enough. But on the whole, I think Red Riding Hood was even duller than The Wolfman, which is amazing. I mean, for one thing, Emily Blunt bothered to act, whereas Amanda Seyfried did not. Perhaps because Emily *can* act? Plus The Wolfman had Anthony Hopkins having nearly as good a time as he did in The Rite, Hugo Weaving having more fun than anyone on the planet ever, and though both films featured dismemberment, only in The Wolfman was a hand still able to fire a gun after the fact.
I’m sure there are good werewolf movies out there, but this is not it.