Little Red Riding Hood, the original story about a girl and a wolf meeting cute, is getting a new, romantic retelling from Warner Brothers. If you think that this is not an attempt to use its metaphorical teeth to take a bite-related pun out of Twilight’s success, then you have never seen a movie before.
Naturally, anything as phenomenally popular as Twilight is going to spawn a subgenre; since Twilight can basically print its own money by now, there’s no point in straying too far from the proven concept. Warner Brothers has even hired Twilight’s Catherine Hardwicke herself to direct, which is such a genius move I can hardly believe it. (Summit released her from her contract before filming began on New Moon, citing scheduling difficulties, a move that, given fan reception of New Moon, might have been a mistake.) Of all the big-and small-screen Twilight spinoffs that have been put into production, scoring Hardwicke might be the single best move any of them has made.
They’ve kept up the good work by casting Amanda Seyfried as the young lady in the red hood. This is a bonus for two reasons: firstly, she’s a much better actress than Kristen Stewart (who I am hoping will pleasantly surprise us all in The Runaways); secondly, she has a pretty big resume that mixes indie projects (Veronica Mars, Big Love) with blockbuster cred (Dear John, the execrable Mamma Mia!). This box-office track record both neatly maximizes the target audience and gives her a buffer against typecasting.
The story itself has the same potential any fairy tale has, and the same pitfalls. Writer David Johnson is coming off the heels of last year’s other young-girls-are-secretly-terrifying thriller, Orphan, which is good or bad news depending on how much you believe the camp in Orphan was intentional.
(A brief tangent about adapting this particular tale. Orphan’s Esther seems like a prototype of the Riding Hood Warner Brothers is going for, an unsettling and sexualized young woman; unfortunately for Johnson, “unsettling and sexualized” is a nutshell description of Angela Carter’s The Company of Wolves, a previous (excellent) retelling of Red Riding Hood that’s going to be tough to top. If it’s a modern spin, things will be easier for him; he’s been beaten to the punch by Hard Candy, which is about as dark as it gets, but is not a genre flick; plus, Hard Candy is the least romantic movie ever made, so whatever romance Johnson can manage will have room to breathe. Okay, time in!)
We’re still awaiting casting news of any human or beastly love interests; I’m guessing two, one of each, and neither old enough to rent a car, just because there’s going to be a lot more love triangle and a lot less psychological horror if Warner Brothers is going for the audience as directly as appearances would suggest.
This is clearly a cut above the upcoming SyFy disasters, but for now, all this news has done is make me want to go home and pull out my DVD of In the Company of Wolves.
Genevieve will be giving twelve dollars to this movie when it comes out, no matter what, because she is a total sucker. Read about her other moviegoing exploits on her blog.