...The better to yawn with, my dear!
Okay, so, having weirdly seen both bad teen fairy tale updates in movie theaters this season, I feel like I should write up Red Riding Hood along with Beastly. But I don't have much to say about Red because of the way I was SO BORED.
By all normal markers, Red Riding Hood is the better movie. It appears to have a decent budget, it's mostly beautifully shot, it has B-list actors instead of C to D ones (sorry, NPH). It's a werewolfy take on the story, but not a modern one, so it's set in a vaguely medieval world where talk of demons and witches makes more sense (although I found its sets no more convincing than Beastly's fake New York, which wasn't helped by the way everyone always looked underdressed for the weather, but not enough to justify it by being tawdry).
But I think the movie's surface "quality" took the fun out of it for me. It wasn't laughably bad, but it wasn't good either. It just stuck in that no-fun place in the middle. It seemed unsure of what it wanted to be. Was it a horror movie? A clever twist on an old story? Forbidden romance? Twilight or Hunger Games? It was kind of all over the place, and the fairy tale felt like an afterthought, tacked onto a run-of-the-mill werewolf movie because somebody thought they needed a hook.
The pace is plodding, and I had a hard time getting a sense of time. Typically, the story is supposed to take place over three nights of the full moon. After the second one I looked at my watch, shocked that we weren't done yet. And even though they say three over and over again, I think there were four. Maybe five. Some nights seemed to last just minutes as required by the plot.
Speaking of plot...there sure was a lot of it! I'm not a total M. Night Shamalyan hater but I worry when a film seems to be emulating The Village. I suppose I should've seen the twist coming, but I was too busy being annoyed by how self-consciously the film kept trying to throw us off the scent (ha!) to the point where I didn't care anymore which of the dozen possible twists was the real one, and the movie actually needed to use flashbacks to remind us of stuff that had happened half an hour earlier.
The actors largely seem to be in different movies. Gary Oldman is having Dracula flashbacks, and Virginia Madsen doesn't do period well. Amanda Seyfried does her best with a lot of staring (insert joke about her giant eyes here) and the boys are pretty, which is pretty much all that's required of them. Michael Hogan basically does Drunk Tigh for an hour, which I always enjoy. Julie Christie knows exactly what movie she's in but was sadly underused.
In the end, I wanted more camp. I mean, have you seen the trailer? It strongly implied camp. And more sex. For the record, Joe, who has apparently become my go-to companion for this sort of film, liked it much better than I did (and better than Beastly...a comparison I should really stop making because they're really totally different movies). Oddly enough, my recommendation is the same as it was for Beastly: If you like this sort of thing, Netflix it. There are worse ways to spend two hours.