Burn the Hood

Not too long ago, in a mystical land far, far away (Canada), the cast and crew of “Red Riding Hood” came together to film a sexed-up version of a storybook classic with “Twilight” director Catherine Hardwicke at the helm.

But Hardwicke seems to have forgotten that she’s not in Forks anymore. Like “Twilight,” her latest opens in a small, isolated, perpetually overcast village. Here, Valerie (a wide- eyed Amanda Seyfried) is torn between two boys (Max Irons and Shiloh Fernandez) — one of whom just might be the werewolf that’s plaguing the town.

To keep things interesting (or dodge copyright issues) a professional werewolf hunter, Solomon (a purple velour-clad Gary Oldman — that’s right, velour), arrives to tell the village that the beast lives among them. When the creature attacks once more, the peasants spiral into panic; meanwhile, Valerie, ever-serious, flirts with both suitors. The town continues on in whodunit hysteria while Solomon scrambles to uncover the werewolf ’s human identity.

By spending absurd periods of time playing to teenyboppers, “Red Riding Hood” loses the cross-generational appeal that’s inherent to the much-beloved original. Hardwicke (further shackled by screenwriterDavid Johnson) treats her audience like bubblegum-brained morons: Actors sport over- wrought expressions, bodies are tense with heightened faux emotion (the terse Madame Lazar, played by Christine Willes, seems to be suffering from irritable bowel syndrome), characters announce their thoughts and intentions and the plot — unable to support itself on its own feeble legs — is propelled forward entirely by clunky dialogue.

Despite the reliance on monologue, characters are woefully insubstantial. Outside Valerie’s persistent concern for her lovers and family, she’s a veritable stranger — her likes, dislikes and motivations remain a mystery.

Not satisfied with gauche dialogue and acting, Hardwicke’s camera pans around scenes erratically, inexpertly avoiding blood by rapidly cutting away from the murdered with nauseating speed, swapping from handheld to fixed shots and punctuating the vertigo with absurd close-ups of pained actors. Worse, the movie’s inconsistent pacing elongates the torture; it alternates sud- denly between a frantic rush and a turtle’s pace for apparently infinite periods of time, as the camera lovingly examines every facet of Seyfried’s and Fernandez’s too-close mugs. The romance scenes are sexless and uncomfortable at best.

After the camera pans over Seyfried’s peepers in excruciating slow-mo for the fifth time (clocked in at around the 20-minute mark), it becomes clear: This flick is just a 15-year-old in wolve’s clothing. (F)

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