FILM REVIEW: Phil Hewitt’s take on Red Riding Hood (12A)

Red Riding Hood, Chichester Cineworld (12a), (100 mins) Oh dear. Just when you thought it was safe to go into the woods again, here we go with a rehash of that awful Twilight nonsense.

Poor old Red Riding Hood has been plucked from her fairy tale world and plonked into the Twilight zone, torn between two hunky blokes, one of whom might just be a werewolf.

Twilight? It’s more like a cue for an early night.

But at least, in this latest twist on current obsessions with fantasy baddies, we’ve got all the fun of arch werewolf hunter Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), arriving with all the flourish of Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition.

His underlings are towing behind them a hollow metal elephant. One up from the comfy chair, it’s an evil means of torture. If Father Solomon needs a confession, he slings the unfortunate wretch inside his tin elephant (yep, it really is that silly) and lights a fire underneath it At any moment, you’re just waiting for him to tell us that nobody expected him.

Still, at least he sparkles just a bit in this otherwise dreary tale of something not-particularly nasty in the woodcutter’s shed.

Rather than a little girl gaily trotting off to see her grandma, here we get a whole village besieged by its own fear of a werewolf - only the rarest of visitors, until now.

Something somehow has stirred the beast up, and it’s Red Riding Hood’s sister who’s the first to suffer, savaged amongst the haystacks.

Still, Red Riding Hood (Amanda Seyfried) soon gets over it. The grieving process is inevitably fairly short when you’ve got the sweet dilemma of choosing between two tall dark handsome blokes - brooding woodcutter Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) and wealthy hunky Henry (Max Irons).

Adding spice to the emotions - if not to the plodding dialogue - is the fact that one of them might just be harbouring a ghastly secret. And no, it’s not that they wish they were in another film.

Meanwhile, in the background, we do actually get a grandma, a slightly fey Julie Christie, but not even she can help things along in the way they desperately need.

Seyfried looks suitably ravishing in her bid to avoid a ravishing, all sweet and just a bit feisty in her red gown against the forest snow.

But with Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee to choose between, you could comfortably forgive her if she opted to elope with the wolf. Or with Father Solomon for that matter. Even the redhot elephant would be a better bet, Instead, it’s all just a bit tame and safe - a big disappointment for a tale which really ought to be all about the blood and the passion. The 12a certificate is a kiss of death more certain than a night with a werewolf.

Maybe you need to be 13 and female to enjoy the film’s finer nuances (Messrs Fernandez and Irons). If you’re neither, you’d best not go down to the woods today.