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Red Riding Hood

Year: 2011
Production Co: Appian Way
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Producer: Leonardo DiCaprio
Writer: David Leslie Johnson
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Julie Christie, Billy Burke, Virginia Madsen, Lukas Haas, Michael Hogan

I don't know exactly what made me want to see this film. As a man approaching 40 I'm completely not the demographic. It's got something to do with an idea I had a long time ago, before there were any movies about Marvel superheroes, giant robots, TV shows or board games. I loved what the movies could do bringing stories to life and I loved certain stories, so I was in love with the idea of what the former could do with the latter.

I remember starting to write the novel version of a video game called Xevious because I thought it would make a great film, and somewhere back in the past – probably because of my love of werewolf lore – I probably thought Red Riding Hood would make a good movie if the inherent sex and violence of the tale were amped up. Neil Jordan's dreamy but nonsensical The Company of Wolves explored the same idea way back in 1984, but I had so little idea what was going on it left me cold.

So if the only big screen version of Red Riding Hood I was going to get would be aimed straight at Stephanie Meyer fangirls, I couldn't be too picky. Plus, it starred the delectable Amanda Seyfried, whom I could watch reading the phone book and be enthralled by.

It seems to be a medieval time and place as a snowy village ekes out a living (not unlike Forks, Washington in the 17th century, as it happens) and lives in fear of the werewolf who haunts their village, taking victims every full moon. Valerie (Seyfried) is cosseted and cloistered by her family, betrothed to a village boy but in love with a rogue from the wrong side of the tracks. Her only respite from it all is visits to her granny (Christie) off in the woods.

When Valerie's sister is killed by the wolf and a fearsome religious man (Oldman) comes to do away with it, War On Terror-style fear grips the village as the new way of life become much more oppressive than the problem they're introduced to combat.

And all the while Valerie is left wondering about her two lovers, both of whom seems to let slip clues that they're the killer everyone's afraid of. I'll admit the twist was pretty surprising and writer Johnson does as good a job as any at stitching a 90-minute movie to the mythology.

But was I disappointed? Kind of – it had the sweep and the vision I hoped for, but someone somewhere has been too careful to make sure it would play to 11 year olds. In some parallel universe there's a version where the wolf attacks and tears villagers limb from limb (leaving splatters of blood all over the ground like in 30 Days of Night) and Valerie bangs her two boyfriends like a pornstar while she decides which one she wants. That's the version I want to see.

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