With Twilight’s Catherine Hardwicke at the helm, one should have a pretty good idea what Red Riding Hood is going to be like: a young girl torn by loyalty to several lovers (one or more may be some sort of beast), and is riddled with angst at the inability of her community to cope with the abomination in their midst.

Red Riding HoodCharles Perrault, the original author of Little Red Riding Hood, never intended his story to be for children, and this film, Red Riding Hood, a horror version of the legendary tale, is definitely not aimed at youngsters. For example, the traditional wolf character is now a werewolf who tears off body parts with ease and terrifies an entire village.

In the village of Daggerhorn lives a young woman named Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), who is in love with a poor woodcutter named Peter (Shiloh Fernandez). Unfortunately, Valerie’s mother (Virginia Madsen) and father (Billy Burke) have affianced her to the wealthy Henry (Max Irons), for whom she cares little. Valerie, who enjoys donning a dashing red cloak often visits her nearby grandmother (Julie Christie). While the two discuss many things, the older woman never says whether she prefers Peter or Henry. This apparent love triangle takes a backseat when the mauling of Valerie’s sister means that the dreaded werewolf has returned. The arrival of famed werewolf hunter and witch slayer Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) complicates matters. He claims that the werewolf is hiding among the townspeople. But Daggerhorn has no shortage of suspects. Could it be Solomon? He’s come into town at the right time. Could it be Valerie’s Grandmother? She’s been acting a little too calm and collected. What about Valerie’s parents? Her lover? Her betrothed? The list goes on and on, and on…Hardwicke and screenwriter David Johnson leave no actor untouched. They create whatever ridiculous backstory is necessary to make each one the possible killer. However, it’s hard not to quickly lose interest.

Amanda Seyfried is one of today’s most expressive actresses, but she isn’t given anything to play off of here. Both Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons (son of Jeremy), are little more than animated mannequins, and don’t exhibit much in the way of acting talent; though their good looks make for some nice eye candy. Gary Oldman has proven acting chops, but he’s over-the-top here, just short of frothing at the mouth. His Father Solomon is the most interesting character in the film but, the screenplay doesn’t spend enough time developing his occupancy of the moral gray area to really matter much.

If there’s any excitement to be had here, it’s the fact that the werewolf isn’t opposed to killing characters en masse with swift, semi-bloody indifference. But even then, Valerie is forced into so much isolation, it all becomes tiring. Even when the wolf finally reveals his intentions, it only serves to muddy everything that follows. As far as I’m concerned, Red Riding Hood very well may be the worst movie of the year, so far.

Shown in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1, this blu-ray transfer is very solid. Colors are lush, the greens of the forest, and the red of Valerie’s cloak showing up nicely. Definition varies slightly but is good most of the time. Black levels are solid, and shadow detail is fine.

The lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio displays good midrange clarity, and bass. The surrounds are used effectively, especially for environmental noises and occasional action sequences.

The Blu-ray includes English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish spoken languages; French, Portuguese, and Spanish subtitles; and English captions for the hearing impaired.

Aside from a standard DVD, the Blu-ray edition of Red Riding Hood offers a variety of exclusives — among them an alternate cut of the film — but few add up to much. The disc’s alternate cut doesn’t offer many alterations, its Picture-in-Picture track bores, its featurettes are weak, its deleted scenes are dull.

  • Alternate Cut: Catherine Hardwicke’s alternate cut (runtime 1:40:24) is exclusive to the Blu-ray release of the film, but it’s tough to uncover the differences between it and its theatrical counterpart (runtime 1:39:50), if any even exist beyond the inclusion of an alternate ending.
    • Secrets Behind the Red Hood: Hardwicke and actors Amanda Seyfried, Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons sit down for one of the most awkward Picture-in-Picture video commentaries in recent memory. Hardwicke may be friendly, but she’s also flighty, unfocused and uninformative; Fernandez and Irons trade anecdotes, all while trying to diffuse the uncomfortable tension between Hardwicke and Seyfried; and Seyfried is downright obnoxious, revealing she wouldn’t have signed on to Red Riding Hood had she known a CG horse would be killed (“no, I’m serious,” she barks at Hardwicke), reacting angrily to any production info relating to animals, sexualizing her co-stars (much to their embarrassment) and making a spectacle of herself. It’s safe to say this wasn’t a pleasant experience for Amanda. Thankfully, the track includes behind-the-scenes mini-featurettes, storyboards, concept artwork and other materials.
    • Behind the Story (HD, 35 minutes): Seven featurettes are also available. “The Reinvention of Red Riding Hood” touches on adapting a fairy tale for modern audiences, “Red’s Men” drools over Fernandez and Irons, “Making of the Score” delves into the film’s music, “Before the Fur” offers a much-too-brief look at the creation of Hood‘s CGI werewolf, “Casting Tapes” showcase the gentlemen yet again, a trio of “Rehearsals” are just that, and “Red Riding Hood in 73 Seconds” inadvertently reveals the film’s biggest problem.
    • Deleted Scenes (HD, 4 minutes): forgettable
    • Gag Reel (HD, 3 minutes): forgettable
    • Music Videos (HD, 6 minutes): Fever Ray’s “The Wolf” and Anthony Gonzalez and Brian Reitzell’s “Just a Fragment of You.”
    • Easter Egg (HD, 1 minute): Highlight “Music Videos,” press right, click enter.