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Red Riding Hood
cast: Kathleen Archebald, Susanna Satta, and Roberto Purvis

director: James K. Cimini

92 minutes (R) 2003
KOA DVD Region 1 retail

RATING: 3/10
reviewed by Ben J. Lamb
"Don't ever tell this tale to your kids," boasts the tagline of this low budget horror, and it is not wrong. The word 'little' has been deliberately left out of the title to give the word 'red' more emphasis, and signify the bloodshed and violence the small girl Rose (Kathleen Archebald) creates. By increasing the gruesomeness this is an attempt at taking the classic Brothers Grimm children's story and aiming it towards an adult demographic. James K. Cimini has completely turned the basic essentials of the original story on their head as a way of scaring mature audiences as if they were young, and were experiencing the Grimms' story for the first time. Also set in a modern day Italy, Cimini has tried to make the tale more relevant for a contemporary society.

Instead of being the caring little girl who travels the dangerous woods to bring her sick grandmother flowers, the red riding hood character Rose is the cause of her grandmother's (Susan Satta) illness by keeping her prisoner, torturing and starving her. As for the wolf, he is a character her troubled mind has created as a way of preying on wrongdoers. The wolf himself represents her impulsive subconscious. He remains her nemesis but he is an alter ego, driving her to punish people. Rose roams the streets at night accompanied by the wolf punishing those who have done wrong. Mainly persecuting sexually liberal women for shoplifting, cheating, and specifically her Grandma for chatting up a man, she claims, "We cannot do whatever we want" as "it would be total breakdown to society." The film is highlighting the contradictorily nature of adults. They teach children strict rules and obedience that they themselves do not abide by. Rose rebels to this unfairness by killing those involved with phallic objects including a knife and a nail-gun.

But the film's concept is its biggest flaw, as you simply cannot engage with the main character. The annoying little girl is not someone you can really relate to. Obviously this is not the first time a little hell-raiser has been the main star of a film, but unlike such films like The Exorcist (1973), and The Omen (1976), the supporting cast are just not believable or given enough screen-time. Too much time is given to Rose whose constant angst has no real reason or relevance. Similarly the schizophrenia has been dealt with really badly as you can instantly tell the wolf is not real. This particular mental defect has been much more effectively dealt with in the terrifying French film Switchblade Romance (2003).

Overall Red Riding Hood thinks it is being political but there is no actual substance and the violence itself is by no means shocking or as edgy as it wants to be. It even becomes rather laughable towards the end as Rose smothers her Grandmother's mouth with peanut butter. But aside from having a little girl as the main character with a grandmother this actually has little to do with the Grimms' original story. It lacks a certain moral fibre as well as a great deal of imagination and vision which if used probably could have made a brilliant horror movie.

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