DVD review ‘Red Riding Hood’: What big shivers you have

Director Catherine Hardwicke of Twilight was a smart choice to direct a re-imagining of the Little Red Riding Hood classic fairy tale as a gothic teen romance set in what seems to be Eastern Europe of a couple of centuries back but rooted in modern sensibilities, from the horror-show gore to the superb music score. She uses the fairy tale as a launching point for a far more elaborate yarn concerning monstrously large werewolves and, in the title role, a remote village’s prettiest girl (Amanda Seyfried of Mamma Mia).

Her Valerie’s beloved is a hunky woodcutter played by Shiloh Fernandez, but tearing them apart is an arranged marriage and the unpleasant intrusion of the beast. Will true love prevail or face haunting redefinition in the deep, dark forest?

Though fairly conventional in narrative, even with its necessary departures from the simple fairy tale, Red Riding Hood has much going for it, including superbly realized atmospherics and a cast that plays it earnestly and straight. The film is genuinely, legitimately creepy throughout, and it’s bolstered by a reliably strong performance by Gary Oldman as a werewolf killer who errs on the side of ruthless expedience.

You may shudder. You may shiver. You may fondly recall how much you enjoyed Tim Burton’s gloriously gloomy Sleepy Hollow in much the same way. But you’ll never consider Little Red Riding Hood again in quite the same manner. In this case, that’s the mark of true success.

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