By LYNN VENHAUS
Did they have hair gel in medieval times? The pair of heartthrob-wannabes starring in the utterly ridiculous “Red Riding Hood” look like they stepped out of a GQ photo shoot rather than appear as believable 17th century villagers.
And that’s just one of many highly implausible elements in this latest and most brazen attempt to cash in on the “Twilight” craze.
The only connection is that first “Twilight” movie director Catherine Hardwicke is responsible for this gothic hot mess and Bella’s dad Charlie (Billy Burke) stars as Red’s scruffy heavy-drinking dad.
With a jarring synthetic sheen, it’s filmed like a music video, except the music and dance is all wrong for the period, and the faux rustic sets and immaculate costumes add to the confusion.
Very loosely based on the fairy tale, “Red Riding Hood” shamelessly borrows from over-used soap opera plots to concoct its superficial romance-and-horror storyline. David Johnson, who wrote the ludicrous “Orphan,” gets the screenwriter credit here. His WGA card should be revoked — do you think fair maidens used the word “OK” in the Middle Ages?
Bland Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), aka Red Riding Hood, is in love with Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), a poor but perfectly groomed woodcutter. However, her parents have arranged a marriage to Henry (Max Irons), a handsome well-scrubbed and wealthier blacksmith.
Seyfried, of ‘Mamma Mia” and “Letters from Juliet,” displays her limited acting range with the same blank look conveying mild shock to major surprise. She doesn’t break a sweat after being labeled a witch and thrown in a cell.
What in the world are Gary Oldman and Julie Christie doing in this movie? Granted, a paycheck is a paycheck, but seriously? In two of the cheesier roles, Oldman badly overacts as Father Solomon, a revered werewolf hunter, while Christie, in softly lit scenes, plays a nurturing grandma with suspect motives.
Their village, set in a picturesque mountain range that’s inexplicably shot in haze, has an uneasy truce with a beast who haunts during a blood red moon. They provide him with a monthly animal sacrifice. But events lead to human deaths, and as the fear escalates, more deaths occur. You know exactly who is going to meet their maker.
Thanks to CGI, the beast is massive — and can talk in a psychic way to Valerie! Go figure! This is when the audience began laughing out loud. A few twitters and chuckles had preceded it, but when the sheer silliness of what was being said and seen sunk in, the giggles erupted.
Surely this wasn’t intended to be a comedy, but when it so blatantly insults the intelligence of teenage girls, trying to lure them by preying on their feelings for Stephenie Meyer’s iconic Edward and Jacob, “Red Riding Hood” deserves to be chided.
This was a dumb idea poorly executed. Area medieval fairs look more authentic than the set’s Pottery Barn-furnished huts and log cabins.
It’s still early, but this is the worst movie of the new year. Enough with the werewolves and vampires, please! Yet, the filmmakers will be laughing all the way to the bank.