I went into this film with such high hopes. It had all the elements for a great movie experience; a werewolf, Gary Oldman, slaughter of innocents and a love triangle. What I got was the Brothers Grimm go to high school.
Our tale opens in ye olde Daggerhorn, a postcard medieval fantasy village set on the edge of some vast, generic forest. The WTF starts right off. In this little hamlet, all the peasants are pretty and there're enough hair products to open a salon. Anyway, the little town has a huge ass werewolf problem. No real explanation is given as to how or why, we’re just told that this monster’s been terrorizing these people for two generations. Instead of killing the beast or anything else remotely resembling common sense, these people have struck a deal of sorts with said wolf. In exchange for the culinary delights of little baby animals once a month, the monster stays away. Another WTF moment and I’m not that far into the movie. You can see where this is going, can’t you?
Valerie, the village beauty, is in lurrve with Peter, the star football player, I mean, woodcutter. She spies him doing woodcutter things with the other manly men, be still her heart, and beckons him away to enjoy some late afternoon delight. Now, according to the frowny-faced moon in the town square, this is a wolf night and everyone is scurrying to lock their doors. Not our young couple, though. They completely ignore the dangers in typical teen horror film fashion and hasten deeper into the woods for some kisses and seductive posing. Yes, seductive posing. More WTFery. The two of them spend the entire time making smoldering eyes at one another and peering around trees with saucy smiles. The adolescent preen fest comes to an end when Pete informs Val that her parents have just promised her to Henry, the blacksmith. Apparently in this town, the woodcutters are privy to all the best gossip.
What follows is a gag inducing Disney-esque High School Musical moment where upon Peter tries to entice sweet Val to ditch Henry and run off with him. He would show her the ocean, the city and they would live on love. Butterflies fluttered, small animals danced and birds twittered…Oh wait, wrong fable, that’s Snow White. Anyhoo, after much romancing, V bats her lashes and says she will go with her prince.
Just then, the alarm sounds and all the citizens come a runnin’. The monster decided not to wait for the moon and came for an early dinner. The unfortunate vic was Val’s sister, Lucy. She was torn to pieces according to the people, but there she lies with a couple of scratches and nary a drop of blood. Guess the werewolf scared her to death. In a great wailing and gnashing of teeth, poor Lucy is brought back to the family abode where Val and her three friends get the task of dressing the body for burial. Thanks Mom and Dad. Here we meet ol’ Henry, the fiancé. Val doesn’t want to talk to him so she goes up to the loft to pout. Henry, taking a cue from her huffiness, turns to her Dear Old Dad, the town drunk, and invites him to the tavern “while the women grieve as they will.” Smooth move. He’s going to make a great son-in-law.
At the tavern, all the men are fired up with testosterone and beer or ale or mead or whatever they drink in postcard fantasy villages. Drunken Lout Number One declares they are going to go after the wolf and kill it. A huge chorus of hell yeahs is raised. Now you know, there’s always one protester at these angry mob meetings and in this case, it’s the priest. He says there’s no need to risk lives, that he has already sent for someone to dispatch the beast. Of course he’s ignored,these drunks are out for blood. It’s werewolf killing time!
In a scene straight out of the film Silver Bullet, the men head out and you know what happens when drunk men go after a monster with torches and knives. Someone’s not coming back. They head to the Creepy Cave on Mount Something Evil where the beast is “known to live”. Excuse me? If they knew this thing lived there, then why in the hell didn’t they do shit about it like a decade ago?
Now where was I? Oh yes, Creepy Cave. Here is where the film shows a spark of suspense, but alas it’s a horror film contrivance. The men must split up in the tunnel as they come to a fork in the passage. Never split up, never say you’ll be right back. Sadly, no one listens. Peter and Henry end up on the same team and they head further in where there’s another divided passage. Half go one way while Peter, Henry and Henry’s dad go the other. It’s werewolf time. Yes! This thing jumps out of the dark and before you can say CGI, H’s dad is dead. In the meantime, the guys in the other tunnel, led by Drunken Lout Number One come across another wolf and kill it. It’s amazing how many wolves live in caves.
They parade the head of this poor creature around the village, all hopped up on their own greatness and filled with school pride. Enter Solomon, famed werewolf hunter, man’s man and all around glorious, purple shrouded god. Here is one of the biggest WTF moments of the whole film. The hunter and his gang arrive in town with a huge metal elephant. You read that right. A metal elephant. Apparently it’s some sort of torture device that cooks its victims. Yummy. Red Riding Hood has gone steampunk. I just went with it because at this point, I was no longer trying to find the sense in this.
Big Bad Sol scoffs at the villagers’ claims that they have killed the werewolf. In other words, you bitches didn't kill squat. “It hides in human form by day,” he declares. “It’s one of you.” They just flip him off and party down, convinced they’re right. Who can blame them? You kill a wolf and hey, it’s Miller time. Drinks for everyone. This is the strangest party scene ever and probably the biggest WTF moment of the film. How does one top a metal elephant you may ask? Let me count the ways. Part prom, part night club, this celebration features, I shit you not, a medieval rock band including a drummer who thinks he’s Keith Moon and a lyre player rockin’ it like Slash. And there was dirty dancing. Yes my friends, booty-popping peasants. I choked on my Diet Coke.
The werewolf interrupts all the fun, of course, in a big “Ha ha, didn’t kill me,” scene. Another rule broken: never assume the monster is dead. It takes out a few villagers along with some of Sol’s men, then corners Val. Instead of eating her, which would have ended the film too soon, the beast mind melds with her like a lycanthropic Mr. Spock. The two gaze intently at one another in the mother of all staring contests and Val realizes she knows the monster in its human form. Big surprise. Before she can say anything, though, Solomon and the rest of the town lock her up and threaten to burn her as a witch. Oh no.
What follows is a montage of revelations, leading Val to rethink what she knows about everyone she has known and loved. There is even a dream sequence with the requisite “My Grandmother, what big teeth you have…” I knew they were going to work those lines in there somewhere. They had to, what re-telling of Red Riding Hood would be complete without them. Now, I will give them props for doing a decent job in hiding the werewolf’s identity. I was suspicious of quite a few people and the big reveal came off rather well.
A senseless script, coupled with a serious lack of direction and production design that looked like it came from the medieval section of Pier One Imports, RRH is an anachronistic mess of a film. The pretty cast poses their way through the story, making it outright laughable in some parts. I have never seen so much intense staring before, oh wait, yes I did, in Twilight, also directed by Catherine Hardwicke. See this only if you need a few laughs or a good flick for a drinking game.