The 35th Best Movie I Saw This Year: Red Riding Hood

We were in the waning hours of a friend’s birthday dinner, finishing up our drinks in a pub just down the road from the theater, when the question popped up.

“A few of us were thinking of going along to see Red Riding Hood, if you’d like to come along.”

I pondered the question for a moment.

“Am I allowed to make fun of it?”
“Oh. Well, I’ll go anyway, and just stay quiet.”

I lied. Of course I lied.

Red Riding Hood is a monumentally bad picture. That’s the truth, a bald fact. Indeed, words cannot really describe to you how bad this film is, though they’re certainly going to try.

Throughout the movie, I blabbered on in disbelief at the movie’s awfulness. I’d like to defend myself, but I can’t.  I couldn’t stop myself. I was physically incapable of holding my disbelief of the movie’s awfulness inside of myself.  The words spewed forth from me in a gushing torrent, even as my friend shushed me constantly. The movie was just too terrible to keep quiet. I wasn’t being sarcastic, or witty, or clever. I was just shocked.

“This movie is so bad.”
“Someone wrote this.”
“None of these people can act.”
“Can you believe how bad this is?”
“This guy is the worst actor I’ve ever seen.”

That was the one that finally got to my friend.

“Be quiet!” she hissed. “He’s so hot.”

Well, sure. And we’ve all been there with movies, content to turn our minds off and stare longingly at the screen. Why else would Jessica Alba be cast in anything? But even the most slack-jawed of us would end up having trouble here.

If you’ve seen the Twilight movies, you know that each of them features excruciatingly wooden acting, even from people we’ve seen better performances from elsewhere. This film – directed by Catherine Hardwicke, the director of the first and worst of those movies – shows why, exactly, that’s the case. As poorly directed as that film is, this film, somehow, is mishandled even worse.

Unless you, like me, enjoy a good movie gone wrong. Everything you could ever want in a bad movie is right here, glaring out from the screen at you. An update of a fairy tale, told in the hushed, forbidden-love tones of a tween drama? With lots of wide-eyed staring back and forth, and reluctant performances from character actors well aware that they deserve better? Top-notch.

Do you know who’s not very good in this movie? Gary Oldman. Gary Oldman. An actor who is good in everything. Even he missteps here, pitching his performance well beyond the range of any of the actors in the scenes with him (this may not be his fault).  My adoration for Amanda Seyfriend can’t hide that she’s even worse, her every line read impossibly overwrought. And that’s before we get to the two male leads in this awkward, Twilite-love triangle: Shiloh Fernanedez and Max Irons.

I understand that I am prone to hyperbole. I accept that. I acknowledge that you know this as well. But before I start throwing words around like “atrocious” and “black hole of despair,” I want you to watch this clip, so you can decide for yourself.


Right? Right? Right?

I dug back through my twitter feed and pulled up some of my best tweets from the day, as I frantically tried to funnel some of my stunned horror at the film’s awfulness in a different direction:

“Okay, fine. But if you’re the wolf, I’m gonna chop your head off.” “I would do the same to you.” Actual lines from Red Riding Hood.

More lines from Riding Hood. Girl: "I'm not like you. You're a killer." Wolf: "You're a killer too. Remember the rabbit?" Me: "SERIOUSLY?" 

“In Red Riding Hood, Gary Oldman puts an innocent, mentally disabled child in a torture device, announces "it's for the greater good," then kills the kid.”

During Riding Hood, Amanda Seyfried has a knife drawn, then hears the wolf growl behind her. She sheaths the knife. Worst. Instincts. Ever. 

I love the movies. I love going, and as much as I enjoy digging into a bad movie, I recognize that sometimes a movie’s just not my cup of tea. Someone out there is enjoying it, even when I’m not. The next few movies on this list are like that, though I feel my dismissiveness of them is justified. But Riding Hood is something out – a movie left in the wrong hands, where every beat feels off, every shot inadequately envisioned, every reaction less-than-honest. It feels like a waste of time for everyone involved, the viewer most of all.

Unless, like me, you love bad movies. Or drinking games. Then, I think you’ll enjoy yourself just fine.