I'm sure most people could tell you the basic plot of the childhood tale "Little Red Riding Hood." However, the latest rendition of the story is a bit more morbid, to put it lightly. "Red Riding Hood" has its graphic moments, but these bloody scenes don't take much away from the rest of the film. They only add to what is quite the bewitching mystery.
The film begins at a relatively slow pace, to say the least. We are introduced to the town's predictable yet tragic werewolf infestation that occurs every full moon. Most of the characters make their presence (and overly suspicious behavior) known at this time, and the audience meets the two male lead roles, Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) and Henry (Max Irons). While both of the men are trying to win over the female star, Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), many dull and quick scenes unfold without progressing the plot beyond a dramatic conversation or two. The first 40 minutes of the film seem to drone on a bit.
The story gets infinitely more interesting when the werewolf makes an appearance at a town festival. The massive canine starts to communicate with Valerie, making her a problematic offer. He gives her the option to either join him or to stay in the town and subject the villagers to frequent, bloody visits. When she refuses to follow him into the forest, he swears he will return soon. At this point the villagers begin scrambling about. The frantic search begins to find the werewolf, who transforms into a human when a full moon is not present.
Here is where the plot thickens. As the townspeople investigate each possible suspect, the audience is thrown into a medieval game of clue gone awry. Each character appears as a person (or werewolf) of interest at one point or another and it becomes difficult to choose a main suspect. You have your obvious suspects, but you are also presented with an array of lesser characters that appear equally, if not more, suspicious. Although it can get a bit confusing at times, it makes for a stimulating mystery that has the viewer analyzing every insignificant person traipsing on the screen. By the time the film is halfway through, I'd bet more than half the audience feels like a private investigator.
After being exposed to clue after clue, you begin to think you've solved the mystery and you've got the whole thing figured out. Well, you do not. The identity of the werewolf is so shocking and twisted that you can't help but let your jaw hang. At least half of the viewers in my theater let out a gasp, myself included, as the wolf revealed itself.
Despite the engaging brain twister, the PG-13 rating frequently rears its ugly head. There are some brief sensual moments, which aren't nearly as off-putting as the amount of gruesome murder and torture in the film. There were a few parts that I found notably difficult to watch in terms of gore. In short, mystery lovers who can sit through the first 40 minutes of the film will most likely enjoy the remaining hour and 10 minutes. However, to the squeamish, beware.
Danielle Grimm is a sophomore at Clarence High School.
"Red Riding Hood"
Review: 2 1/2 stars (out of four)