Can Twi­light team find box of­fice suc­cess again?

Evening Express (City Final) - The Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

THE Twi­light films have a great deal to an­swer for. The teen ro­mances star­ring Robert Pat­tin­son and Kris­ten Ste­wart have whet­ted an ap­petite for fan­tas­ti­cal ad­ven­ture sto­ries with tor­tured young heroes and heroines, and spawned one abom­inable and fan­g­less spoof, Vam­pires Suck. Now, di­rec­tor Cather­ine Hard­wicke, who brought the first Twi­light film to the screen, slav­ishly fol­lows the same tem­plate in her re­work­ing of the clas­sic fairy­tale, writ­ten for the screen by David John­son. Thus we have a beau­ti­ful hero­ine torn be­tween two po­ten­tial suit­ors, one of whom might be a were­wolf, the other a brood­ing Brit; Billy Burke in a thank­less sup­port­ing role as her pro­tec­tive fa­ther; sweep­ing aerial shots of lush forests; and a rock sound­track to un­der­score the lin­ger­ing glances and angst of the pro­tag­o­nists. If Red Rid­ing Hood didn’t pan­der to the 12A cer­tifi­cate, com­plete with a chaste fum­ble in the hay barn, there is po­ten­tial here for a bloody hor­ror story. Yet, ev­ery time Hard­wicke’s film threat­ens to veer into dark, un­set­tling ter­ri­tory, it’s sweet­ened with a driz­zle of sickly sweet ro­mance and heart­felt out­pour­ings such as, “The only life I want is with you.” Va­lerie (Amanda Seyfried) lives with her fa­ther Ce­saire (Billy Burke), mother Suzette (Vir­ginia Mad­sen) and older sis­ter in a vil­lage plagued by a were­wolf. Ev­ery full moon, the lo­cals tether a pig to a stake as a sac­ri­fice and lock their doors. Away from the blood­shed, Va­lerie is in love with best friend Peter (Shiloh Fer­nan­dez) but must marry Henry Lazar (Max Irons), whose fam­ily for­tune pro­vides the best chance of a rosy fu­ture. “I don’t feel like it’s my wed­ding. I feel like I’m be­ing

“Po­ten­tial for bloody hor­ror”

sold,” Va­lerie laments to her grand­mother (Julie Christie), who lives in a cabin in the woods. When the beast claims the life of Va­lerie’s sis­ter un­der a blood red moon, renowned were­wolf hunter Fa­ther Solomon (Gary Old­man) vows to un­mask the ly­can­thrope in their midst. Red Rid­ing Hood uses the fa­mil­iar story as a hook for a pre­dictable menage a trois. Em­ploy­ing logic, the iden­tity of the were­wolf is ev­i­dent be­fore the big re­veal, when Va­lerie must ma­ture from damsel in dis­tress to ar­chi­tect of her own fate. The fairy­tale’s iconic ex­change – “Grand­mother, what big eyes you have!” – is con­signed to a night­mare se­quence, elic­it­ing

HUNTER: Gary Old­man dis­patches were­wolves. TOR­MENTED: Va­lerie (Amanda Seyfried).

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