Little Red Riding Hood (1997)

DVD Cover (Malaprop Productions)
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Connections: Little Red Riding Hood

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Christina Ricci
Christina Ricci
Timour Bourtasenkov
Timour Bourtasenkov
Evelyn Solann
Evelyn Solann
Quentin Crisp
Quentin Crisp
Review by Crispy
Added: June 05, 2008
While on the lookout for Giacomo Cimini's Red Riding Hood, I stumbled upon the torrent for this black and white short film. Now, my favorite actress in my favorite fairy tale; how could this possibly go wrong? Famous last words if ever there were any, and I'll be damned if David Kaplan didn't find a way.

Now, for a multitude of reasons, this synopsis is going to cover the entire film, so there's your spoiler warning. Anyway, the entire thing is narrated by Quentin Crisp (who has the only speaking role), and it starts off with Red Riding Hood (Christina Ricci) en route to Granny's, where she meets the wolf (Timour Bourtasenkov). After inquiring which path Red was going to take, he literally ballerinas his ass down the other path and beats her to Granny's, where he slaughters the old woman. After putting some of her flesh in a bowl, he dresses in her clothes and climbs into bed. When Red gets there, he instructs her to eat the meat on the table, which she does, even after the cat tells her it's her grandmother. After she's eaten, the wolf tells her to burn her clothes and climbs into bed with him, which she does before engaging him in the familiar series of questions that the story is known for. As she realizes she's about to be eaten, she tells him she has to go "pee pee" and "caca" and goes outside. Eventually he gets impatient and follows her, only to find her gone. But all is not as it seems, as Red is hiding in a nearby bush, and purposefully makes herself known to the predator before running home, with the wolf in hot pursuit.

So as you can see, this isn't quite the tale that we grew up hearing; in fact, it's much more closely related to the original story told orally since before the seventeenth century. Red doesn't need a hunter to rescue her, and she doesn't think twice about cannibalizing her grandmother, even after being warned, so we know the girl isn't as innocent or naive as future tellings would portray her. Nothing wrong with that; in a lot of ways I actually prefer this version. No, what bothered me is the entire feel of the movie. Kaplan went for this overly artsy tone that completely ruined it for me. Adding to this was the fact that he decided not to put together even the most basic of a wolf costume. Instead, he just got some androgynous guy in a leotard with some weird contacts who, by the way, looked utterly ridiculous with his over-exaggerated ballet. And just when I was starting to get used to all this, Kaplan decides to shatter it with the phrases pee pee, caca, and "are you dropping a big load out there?" Now, there's nothing wrong with fart jokes, but when they don't fit the theme of the film like this, it just makes their juvenile nature all the more apparent.

The movie's single pro in my opinion, (besides Christina of course) is that little pro-pedophilia, "she really wants it" hook at the end. Now, I'm certainly not condoning pedophilia and it completely goes against the original moral of the tale, but it's an edgy angle that's not taken very often for this story. If Kaplan had taken a bit more of a straightforward approach, I think I would have enjoyed the film a hell of a lot more . Even with the shoddy wolf "costume." But alas, he was more interested in turning it into an interpretive dance. Now, maybe I just didn't "get it", which is possible since this thing somehow won a few awards, but personally I'm going with a 2/10.
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