This version of the well-known Red Riding Hood story is set in a small medieval village. Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) and Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) are in love, but Valerie’s parents have arranged for her to marry Henry (Max Irons). Henry’s the well-off son of the village blacksmith. Valerie and Peter plan to run away, but their plans are ruined when Valerie’s sister is killed by the local werewolf.
For years the villagers have maintained a truce with the werewolf by offering an animal sacrifice each full moon. But now the werewolf has broken the truce by killing Valerie’s sister. Outraged by the murder, the villagers go off to hunt down the werewolf. They kill what they think is it, but village priest Father Auguste (Lukas Haas) has called in famed werewolf hunter Father Solomon (Gary Oldman). Father Solomon announces that the villagers have killed just an ordinary wolf. The real werewolf takes on human form by day and could be any one of them.
The werewolf then attacks the village and confronts Valerie. She finds that she can hear the wolf’s thoughts. This is just the beginning of her struggles.
The supernatural; werewolves; torture
This movie has some violence. For example:
- As children, Valerie and Peter trap a rabbit. Peter holds a knife to its throat, saying that he could make a pair of hunting boots from the rabbit.
- A group of men walks through a cave. There is an image of a wolf’s head on the cave wall and the sound of a man screaming. After this, the body of a dead man lies on the cave floor.
- Father Solomon talks about how he cut off the paw of a werewolf with his axe. A short time later, he found his wife with a bandage wrapped around the stump of her severed hand. He was forced to kill her.
- A group of soldiers ransack village houses while the villagers look scared and cry.
- Peter holds a knife to a man’s throat while threatening him.
- When the werewolf attacks the village, it jumps at men. It knocks some to the ground and hurls others through the air. The wolf attacks one person, and blood splatters over a book. Several men lasso the wolf with ropes, and the wolf bites a man’s arm. At the end of the wolf’s attack, the village looks like a battleground. There are dead bodies and broken things lying all around.
- Father Solomon kills a wounded soldier after the soldier is bitten by the werewolf. He ruthlessly stabs the soldier in the chest. The soldier’s brother begs for the man’s life, but Solomon doesn’t listen.
- Father Solomon tortures a boy with intellectual disabilities. Solomon locks the boy inside a giant metal oven with a fire lit underneath. The boy screams, but Solomon tells people that the torture is for the greater good.
- Valerie is paraded through the village streets, her hands chained and manacled. She is forced to wear a metal wolf’s mask. At the end of the walk, Valerie is tied to a wooden stage and left as sacrifice for the werewolf.
- The werewolf bites off Father Solomon’s hand. The bloody severed hand, still clutching a sword, lies on the ground in a pool of blood.
- Father Solomon violently throws Valerie to the ground. She hits her head on a statue and is knocked unconscious.
- Peter appears unannounced in front of Valerie. She slashes out with a knife and cuts Peter across his stomach.
- In a fight between Peter and Valerie’s father, Peter attacks Valerie’s father with an axe. Valerie stabs her father in the chest with a severed hand that has sharp silver fingernails.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example:
- Villagers carry a severed wolf’s head on a pole.
- Animals are sacrificed to the werewolf. A little girl cries next to a piglet that’s about to be sacrificed.
- Father Solomon shows a group of villagers a small box containing the severed, bandaged hand of his dead wife.
- There are scenes of a man’s fingers pushing into a large piece of bloodied meat. He pulls off smaller pieces of meat and puts them in his mouth.
- The werewolf puts its paw on holy ground. The paw smokes, goes black and sizzles. Sparks also fly from it.
- In a dream, Valerie lies in bed next to her grandmother who gradually becomes wolf-like and jumps at her.
- Valerie kneels over the dead body of her father and uses a knife to cut deeply into her father’s chest cavity. Valerie and Peter place some stones in the chest cavity. Valerie stitches up the her father’s chest before they push the body into a lake.
- Throughout the movie, there are quick shadowy images of a wolf flashing across the screen. At the end of the credits, the shadowy image of a wolf seems to leap out of the screen.
Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.
Children in this age group could also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.
This movie has some sexual references. For example:
- Valerie’s marriage has been arranged, and her mother wants money in return for Valerie.
- Peter tells Valerie that he doesn’t want to marry her anymore. He says, ‘We had some fun, that’s all it was’.
- Valerie’s mother tells Valerie that before she married Valerie’s father, she had an affair with another man. Valerie’s older sister was a result of that affair. Valerie’s father doesn’t know this.
- Peter flirts with a young woman. Characters talk about the woman being Peter’s new conquest. Peter tells Valerie, ‘I don’t have to like her to get what I want from her’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
This movie has some use of substances. For example:
- Throughout the movie, Valerie’s father drinks from a leather flask. He seems drunk several times.
- Several scenes show a large group of people drinking in the local tavern.
- At an outdoor party, men and woman drink so much they get drunk.
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- During a party, a drunken man pretends to make sexual thrusts while bending over a second man who is lying unconscious on the ground.
- During a party Peter dances in a sensual way with a young woman. Valerie dances in a similar way with a young woman.
- Peter and Valerie kiss each other passionately on the lips. Valerie wraps her legs around Peter, and he carries her into a barn. They lie on the ground with Peter on top. They kiss passionately and breathe heavily. Peter begins to untie the laces on Valerie’s scoop-necked bodice, but then they’re interrupted.
- A young woman offers herself to Father Solomon in exchange for Father Solomon releasing her brother from prison.
- Father Solomon caresses Valerie’s back in a suggestive way.
- In a dream-like scene, Peter lies on top of Valerie on her red cloak. Their bare shoulders suggest that Peter and Valerie are naked.
None of concern
This movie has occasional put-downs and name-calling.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Red Riding Hood is a fantasy romance with elements of horror. It seems to be aimed at a teenage audience. It is directed by Catherine Hardwicke, who also directed the Twilight movies. Like the Twilight movies, this movie has a gothic feel, a story involving a love triangle, and a strong supernatural element.
The main message from this movie is that love is worth risking everything for, regardless of the consequences or the cost to others. You might feel that this is a negative message for children and teenagers.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with older children include courage and selflessness. For example, Peter repeatedly shows courage and selflessness as he protects Valerie from both the werewolf and Father Solomon. He eventually pays the ultimate cost for his acts of bravery when he is bitten by the werewolf and cursed for life.
You might also want to talk about Father Solomon’s behaviour and his justification for torturing a boy with intellectual disabilities.