Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A review of "Red Riding Hood"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “Red Riding Hood”

By: Brian Cotnoir

     I typically find that when I look at an Italian produced film it’s falls into one of categories:  There’s the phenomenal works like a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western’s and then there are films like a Joe D’Amato Exploitation piece of crap.  I very rarely find a middle ground when it comes to films that come out of Italy, but the film I’m reviewing today has my feeling pulled in so many different directions.  On one hand, it’s low-budget work with second-rate actors, but it has a great story and dialogue.  This is the type of film that breaks my heart.  It is a film where I see so much potential, but do to things like budget, timing, and other things it comes up way short of its potential.     
This is not the one with Christina Ricci
“Red Riding Hood” is 2003 Horror/thriller that filmed entirely on location in Rome.  It is told from the perspective of a 12-year-old girl named Jennifer.  Jennifer’s father was a politician in America who was assassinated, and shortly after his death her mother moved the two of them to Rome.  Jennifer’s mother eventually runs off with her new lover leaving Jennifer alone to raise herself.  Jennifer is homeschooled by day, and by night she is a vigilante who stalks the streets with her mysterious helper, George, to right the wrongs that they see going on.  Then one day Jennifer’s grandmother—Rose—comes to town and tells Jennifer that she plans on taking her back to New York City to raise her on her own, but Jennifer doesn’t plan on going down without a fight.  Now, it’s up for you the audience to decide: is this girl a young hero or is she actually sociopath?                                 
     Okay, I’ll admit that from that paragraph describing the plot the film doesn’t sound like anything spectacular, but believe me this film had a lot of potential.  For one thing, it made good use of is filming location.  The film was shot entirely in Rome so you get to see all the famous landmarks of Rome.  The characters all pretty unique and memorable too, but some are more memorable than others.                                
Actress Susanna Satta plays Jennifer
     Let’s look at our main character Jennifer.  At times she can be a fun character, but mostly I found her to be lacking at times throughout the film.  For one thing, she always looks like she’s squinting throughout the film.  I typically don’t like to bash child actors in films because of their lack of experience, and considering this the only film that Susanna Satta has appeared in, I think it speaks great lengths that she probably wasn’t ready to take on a role like this.  That’s the only real criticism I have about her acting, the rest of the problems with her performance was how her character was written.  The idea, of a well-spoken, well educated American teenage vigilante sounds like the grounds for a great protagonist, and then you see the people she goes after aren’t murderers, drug dealers, or child traffickers, but petty crooks.  She brutally murders one woman for stealing a bottle of wine from a marketplace, and then she murders her dentist for having an affair with his assistant.  Do those types of crimes really call for a brutal execution?  I don’t think so.  They sound more like personal beefs then a vendetta.  It does help spark the debate of whether or not Jennifer is a really a teen crime-fighter or if she is just a sociopath, which is a fun debate throughout the story.              
Hi George!
The dialogue in this film is very well written.  It’s so good at times, that I actually can’t believe that it was written for such a low-budget foreign Horror film.  The dialogue follows a great story; however it does feel very rushed.  With all this great dialogue and plot, it was ashamed that the film’s director and cast didn’t let any tension or build up settle in.  At times “Red Riding Hood” feels very rushed; so rushed that you almost get this sense that they rushed all the action and dialogue to get the film to a shorter run time, which is a shame because I think if they would have slowed down some of that stuff then this film would have been much better.                             
     I would absolutely recommend “Red Riding Hood” to fans of Straight-to-DVD Horror.  Despite its minor flaws and setbacks I still found it to be an enjoyable film, and as long as you don’t overanalyze and nitpick it (like I typically do) I think you will enjoy “Red Riding Hood” as well.

Quite the likable little psycho


  1. If nothing else it seems easier to sit through than hard candy was!

    1. Huh, never thought of it like that. You know in a way it sort of is. But I actually found Hard Candy to be rather enjoyable. :)

  2. It was definitley a good movie, I'm just way too squeamish to sit through it