Red Riding Hood (2003) Movie Review
Written By: YN
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Giacomo Cimini
Producers: Roberto D’Ettorre Piazzoli and Ovidio G. Assonitis
Writers: Andrew Benker and Oliver Hellman
Date Released: May 20, 2003
Kathleen Archebald as Rose McKenzie, Jenny’s grandmother
Susanna Satta as Jennifer “Jenny” McKenzie
Roberto Purvis as Tom Hunter, Jenny’s tutor
Marc Fiorini as Giovanni Tagliavini, the dentist
Justine Powell as Arianna
Iaon Gunn as The Beggar
Antonella Salvucci as Maria, the dentists’ lover
Remo Remotti as Francesco Scura
Rating = 3.5/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Jenny McKenzie is used to abandonment. Her father died when she was very young; her mother has long been out of the picture; and her stepmother walked out of her, leaving her in a penthouse apartment in Rome with plenty of cash. Her only true friend is her dog, George. But when her grandmother, Rose, decides to bring her back to New York with her, Jenny refuses. So, she hatches a plan to make sure that they stay, while she and George continue with their nightly sprawl to uphold justice in the city.
The gore in this film is explicit and glorious. There are dismembered body parts, bagged and frozen into a mini refrigerator. There is a beheading. There are nails piercing right through eyes and the male genitalia. Legs get sliced through with a katana. Blood splatters everywhere like a gruesome firework.
The Grave Review
There is a quirkiness in Red Riding Hood (2003) that can trick you into thinking that it’s a harmless, coming of age movie when in fact it’s a slasher film. Its script is full of internal monologues that sometimes breaks the fourth wall to address the audience, letting you into the protagonist’s personal thoughts. She seems charming at first, but the movie eventually reveals her dark side. The build up for the revelation isn’t drawn out, and it dives right into the gory bits a few minutes in. This is what happens if Little Red Riding Hood has grown up and becomes the wolf instead.
What makes this film interesting and unique is that the story is told from the point of view of a child. The gravity of the situation with the murders and violence aren’t fully understood by the narrator. Thus, instead of it being dark, it sometimes borders to being comedic. Add to the fact that our killer slash protagonist loves the sound of her voice as she does the killing, you are momentarily taken away from the bloodbath with how ridiculous and childish she may sound with her rationale. But don’t let that fool you because the girl’s actions are still really disturbing, and things can get a bit creepy especially when the George comes into the scene.
The movie doesn’t try to conceal its true nature despite the incessant monologues. In fact, the introduction already shows its first taste of violence. It’s just that it is mostly masked with its own brand of dark humor. From start to end, the movie does not hesitate diving right into the gory bits.
Ever since the grandmother arrives, the movie wastes no time in revealing Jenny’s real intentions and character. Each scene presents her cunning and her deliberate manipulation of her grandmother. Accompanied by her own narration, the audience immediately knows that something is wrong with her. And while there is an attempt in the film to surprise you with a plot twist, the truth is glaringly obvious from the start. Nonetheless, this predictability won’t really ruin the experience for you because the movie isn’t focused on the mystery but is focused on Jenny herself.
The shots in the film also give a sense of surrealism with the way it abruptly cuts from one scene to another. This is especially palpable during the murder scenes where it gets messy. The camera works alternates scenes where Jenny is holding the weapon and then George is the one doing the killing. While this stylized camera work may seem a little gaudy at first, it will eventually make sense once you learn the truth behind Jenny’s relationship with George.
As for the performance, Susanna Satta makes a wonderful Jenny, but there are times when her acting feels a bit too unnatural and stilted. There are times when she dramatizes too much in her monologue, making you quite aware that her words came from a script and thus pulling you out a bit from the immersion. Meanwhile, other characters’ performances are a bit too over the top–which is usually the case with low-budget slasher films.
With that, Red Riding Hood (2003) is a refreshing and darkly humorous take on the slasher genre. The premise of which is interesting and shows a closer examination of how neglect and abandonment can impact a child’s mental health. If you’ve got a hankering for some gory fun, this movie might just be for you.
For these foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Red Riding Hood (2003) three point five graves out of five graves.
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