Red Riding Hood is not a spinoff of Twilight, although its ad campaign seems to be working hard to suggest otherwise, and Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke brings a lot of elements of the mega-popular paranormal-romance series to bear on this inferior cash-in. Hood feels torn between its Twilight-aping elements (a battle between two bland hunks for the love of a chaste girl; a supernatural threat that’s more angsty than scary) and something potentially more distinctive, with a premise that embraces an earthy, primal mythology.
Despite the vaguely medieval setting, though, the approach is thoroughly modern (no medieval village ever had this much hair gel), and almost all of the actors look uncomfortable in their period clothing. Star Amanda Seyfried has plenty of beauty and charm, but the title role, a young woman named Valerie torn between the aforementioned bland hunks, is pretty insubstantial. Valerie’s village is being terrorized by a werewolf, with every resident under suspicion. A werewolf-hunting priest (Gary Oldman, wolfing down scenery) comes to town to hunt the beast, but only spreads fear.
The dialogue is cheesy and awkward, with elements of the classic fairy tale clumsily incorporated into the story (the “Grandmother, what big eyes you have” scene is especially laughable). Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons, as the young men competing for Valerie’s affection, give equally flat performances, the suspense is practically nonexistent, and the wolf, when he finally shows up, is entirely unimpressive. At least Twilight has something resembling passion—Red Riding Hood is barely a sheep in wolf’s clothing.