Horror review: Red Riding Hood

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ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, MARCH 11, 2011

By Steve Newton

You may have seen the recent episode of Conan where Conan O’Brien proposed that the U.S.’s color-coded “terror alert” system be replaced by one that uses varying degrees of Nicolas Cage’s overacting to show Americans when to panic. If this new system ever got to the stage where Cage, in The Wicker Man, freaks out from bees stinging his face, you’d know it was 9/11 time.

Judging by his over-the-top turn in the B.C.–shot Red Riding Hood, Gary Oldman might soon be relieving Cage as Hollywood’s go-to-guy for thick slices of ham. I never thought he’d top his overwrought performance as an exorcising rabbi in 2009’s schlocky The Unborn, but there he is, traipsing around in a purple velvet robe hollering “Your very souls are in danger!”. It’s enough to make you smash open your VHS copy of Sid & Nancy and strangle yourself with its worn-out tape.

Oldman plays Father Solomon, a medieval werewolf specialist who is called upon by the inhabitants of a tiny village to rid them of the beast in their midst. He arrives with a high-and-mighty flourish right around the time that the hunky young suitors (Max Irons and Shiloh Fernandez) vying for the hand of the titular red-cloaked beauty (Amanda Seyfried) say things like, “If you’re the wolf, I am going to cut your head off!”, followed by, “And I will do the same to you!”.

David Johnson’s previous screenwriting credit was the hackneyed horror flick Orphan, and this time around his artless script leaves both Oscar-winner Julie Christie and Oscar-nominee Virginia Madsen afloat in a sea of silliness and clichés. Director Catherine Hardwicke obviously had no qualms about abusing a perfectly good fairy tale in a mindless cash-grab aimed at the same gullible tweens she fleeced with her equally vapid Twilight.

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