Red Riding Hood (2003)

DVD Cover (Redrum Entertainment)
Genres / Traits: Creature Film, Fairy Tales & Legends, Horror, Psychological Drama, Psychological Thriller, Sadistic Horror, Canines
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Giacomo Cimini Giacomo Cimini
Kathleen Archebald Kathleen Archebald
Susanna Satta Susanna Satta
Roberto Davide Roberto Davide
Marc Fiorini Marc Fiorini
Justine Powell Justine Powell
Movie Connections:
Little Red Riding Hood
> Little Red Riding Hood (1997)
> Red Riding Hood (2003)
> Red: Werewolf Hunter (2010)
> Red Riding Hood (2011)

4.7 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: March 07, 2008
Truth be told, I checked this movie out with no knowledge of what it would provide me with and no expectations of a quality film. I do that from time to time; what can I say, I'm a sucker for a neat DVD cover or an intriguing storyline, regardless of what that little voice in the back of my head screams at me while reading the generic synopsis on the back of the case. With that said, the only expectations that I had when I popped Red Riding Hood into my DVD player was that I'd see a modern retelling of an old fairytale, there would be some corny special effects, and I was pretty sure that I'd see a couple of neat kills. I wasn't expecting anything particularly excellent from this Italian release, but I'll be damned if I wasn't wrong. Very wrong.

Although the general themes and characters of the original fairytale are present here, this is far from the story that we grew up hearing just before bed; in fact, it's almost an entirely different beast altogether. We begin with an introduction to the little girl known as Jennifer (Susanna Satta), a girl whose father was murdered a couple of years ago and whose mother has run off with another man, leaving her to live by herself in an Italian apartment with mommy's sizable bank account at her disposal. She also has a big bad wolf as a friend, and together, the two of them roam the streets at night in search of petty thieves and other delinquents to murder in the grisliest ways imaginable.

It's a bizarre life for a twelve-year-old, no doubt about it; however, the girl is happy with both her current living situation and her nightly "fun" and she receives daily lessons from her tutor (Roberto Purvis), so who's to complain when the only people getting hurt are the criminals? Well, things change when granny Rose (Kathleen Archebald) travels from New York to stay with her for a while, and she brings along a bit of a bombshell: Rose has just received custody of Jennifer, and the two of them will be going back to the States so that Jenny can start her life over again and live like a normal teenage girl. Needless to say, this doesn't sit too well with our heroine, so she devises a plan to ensure that she'll forever remain in Rome... regardless of what she has to do or who she has to hurt in order to accomplish this goal.

If the above synopsis didn't give it away, this film shares very little in common with the original storyline; in fact, with the exception of the leading lady wearing red clothing and her having interactions with her grandmother, the two entities are almost completely different save for the minor nods and references that are sprinkled throughout (her tutor's last name is Hunter, for example, and there's that thing about a wolf being present). This actually worked out much better than I thought it would have, as the direction that director Giacomo Cimini went with here left us guessing while at the same time giving us some familiar characters right off the bat. Most filmmakers probably would have stayed truer to the source material, and while I can't say for certain that that wouldn't work in a horror film, I wouldn't bank on it producing a classic.

What really shocked me here was the fact that this film was much more of a psychological thriller than a bloody horror film. Sure, the wolf racks up a few kills and the little girl has some sadistic moments, but make no mistake about it: the real emphasis of the film rests on her state of mind and her interaction with her grandmother. Think of it as something vaguely similar to Misery, only, with a twelve-year-old playing the part of Annie Wilkes, much more violence (but nothing near the "torture porn" levels), and a giant wolf helping this little lady with her murderous ways. It doesn't sound like much on paper, and truthfully, there were some laughable moments to be found, but I enjoyed the film much more than I thought I would have.

There are a few weak spots in the film, with the major one being the final twist. Yes, there are two twists packed into the running time, and while I thought that the first one was excellent if not a little predictable, the one that directly precedes the end credits is frankly a little embarrassing to watch. It takes the movie in a full circle (you'll know what I mean if you watch it) and it does make sense, but the execution of it left a lot to be desired. I obviously can't speak too much about it without giving away major spoilers, but suffice it to say that I would have been a lot happier had the film ended about five minutes earlier or had they considerably tweaked that scene.

Overall though, it was much better than a direct-to-video horror flick about Little Red Riding Hood had any right to be, and maybe I'm just in a good mood today based on the other scathing reviews I've read, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and give this one a solid recommendation for fans of psychological thrillers who also enjoy a bit of the red stuff. 8/10.
Cryptorchild #1: Cryptorchild - added 03/10/2008, 09:42 PM
You know this movie suprised me. I wasn't expecting much but I came out liking it. Not the best movie ever, but it did keep me entertained. So yeah I like it.
Crispy #2: Crispy - added 06/04/2009, 04:48 AM
Insanely disappointed with this one. Bored the hell out of me.
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