Summary: For decades, the people of the village of Daggerhorn have maintained an uneasy truce with the werewolf, who prowls at every full moon, by offering the beast a monthly animal sacrifice to quench its appetite. But under a blood red moon, the wolf changes the stakes by taking the life of one of their own.
My review: Being a fan of Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight), I had high expectations for this film and its hard to wrap my head around the ones she failed at and the ones she succeeded.
Visually, there are beautiful, wide distant shots of the gorgeous landscape; the woods and snow capped mountains and the aerial views were simply stunning, with Valerie's (Amanda Seyfried) famous red hood, blowing precariously in the wind. Even things that you might not notice at first glance, held me captive in a fairy tale state of being, with large thorns sticking out of gigantic red woods, hidden patches of wild flowers peeking through patches of winter ice; I will definitely give credit to the backdrop and scenery. It was bewitching.
But unfortunately, I then became spoiled by such alluring images that when we focused just on the villagers and their homes, something felt amiss. I think my biggest complaint about the "essence" of the film, is the way they talked. I've never really had issue with this before, but their modern dialog felt out of place, in what appears to be a medieval community; a rural village high in the hilltops. In particular, Max Irons, who plays Henry just killed me at times. I'm not sure if it was his acting, or his looks, but his parts just weren't good.
But I will say Amanda Seyfried did a great job. If it were not for her big, teary eyes, I would never have believed that a werewolf was stalking this village. Shiloh Fernandez, who plays her love interest, Peter, did good as well; actually worlds better than Max.
As for the other actors; Gary Oldman (creepy werewolf hunter), Billy Burke (hello handsome, drunk father), Virginia Madsen (has big, beady eyes like Amanda), and Julie Christie (perfect as the grandmother).
So now that we know nobody will be getting an Oscar nod for their performance, let's take a closer look at the actual plot of the story.
The famous love triangle: Valerie is promised to Henry, who comes from money but loves Peter, a simple woodsman. I really found this ridiculous since everybody's wooden hut looked the same, what money? They are in the mountains with a werewolf that they have to feed every full moon. These two elements didn't work. I think essentially we could have cut Henry's scenes out and just focused on the strained relationship of Peter and Valerie; the biggest threat being, who can you really trust? Who is the werewolf, if it can live among you? Henry's story for me, was a waste of film and he was so annoying that I could see why Valerie didn't want to marry him.
As for the mystery and danger to a werewolf stalking the village; Hardwicke got this right! The movie almost felt like Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula (and maybe a little Van Helsing), which I loved. In fact, screw the PG rating, I wished they would have gone full horror, and made it darker and more graphic. What I found that Catherine did an AMAZING job at, was keeping the audience in suspense. I heard this from many moviegoers that they had no idea who the wolf was. So essentially, the story is a murder mystery with a supernatural element to it. Did it need the love story? I think that was fine and like I stated before, it could have been expanded upon. After all, there is no greater pain than betrayal.
So in the end because of its beautiful imagery, haunting tale of murder... I give this movie four stars and recommend that this is one you see in the theatre (without kids).
Cast and Credit:
Directed by Catherine Hardwick
Billy Burke-Valerie's father
Virginia Madsen-Valerie's mother