SUMMARY (from IMDB): Valerie (Seyfried) is a beautiful young woman torn between two men. She is in love with a brooding outsider, Peter (Fernandez), but her parents have arranged for her to marry the wealthy Henry (Irons). Unwilling to lose each other, Valerie and Peter are planning to run away together when they learn that Valerie's older sister has been killed by the werewolf that prowls the dark forest surrounding their village. For years, the people have maintained an uneasy truce with the beast, offering the creature a monthly animal sacrifice. But under a blood red moon, the wolf has upped the stakes by taking a human life. Hungry for revenge, the people call on famed werewolf hunter, Father Solomon (Oldman), to help them kill the wolf. But Solomon's arrival brings unintended consequences as he warns that the wolf, who takes human form by day, could be any one of them. As the death toll rises with each moon, Valerie begins to suspect that the werewolf could be someone she loves. As panic grips the town, Valerie discovers that she has a unique connection to the beast--one that inexorably draws them together, making her both suspect...and bait.
DIRECTOR: Catherine Hardwicke; CAST: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons, Billy Burke
The start of the film is a little tepid, at first it just looks like another of thousand-and-one werewolf versions. However, it later proves to be more than that.
The plot is loosely following the well-known fairytale but is really in many aspects a severe expression of social criticism. It portrays how people prefer burying their heads in the sand to facing the horrifying truth. It is easier to find a scapegoat outside than to admit the real problem lies within the village. The village can easily be related not only to the USA but to any other country or society in the world. I can, for instance, without difficulty mirror it to the current situation in Slovenia.
Father Solomon represents the Church going on a witch-hunt against evil where there is none in order to prove its case at any cost. His character states something like that the means for achieving good do not need always to be good, which on my opinion tells everything about his/the Church’s hypocrisy. So does his secret lusting after Valerie whereas he condemns her in front of others, which is clearly a criticism of sexual abuse from the part of the clergy.
The criticism in the film is conveyed so subtly that the viewers can choose to see or ignore it, which is in itself another way of reflecting people having a choice between facing the difficulties and turning away from them.
The acting is good; especially Oldman excels in his role. Burke is convincing in the role of Valerie’s father. Fernandez and Irons are not the brawliest among the guys competing for one girl, but they put up a solid show. The love trio is satisfactory, although they could use some more chemistry.
Seyfried at first appears as a pretty doll. The first impression of her character seems to be one of a spoiled brat who unwittingly provokes disaster. However, Valerie comes out a great heroine. Although supposed to be corrupted, Valerie is actually the person who is morally sound and I liked her at the end of the film.
Visually, the film is beautiful with its medieval setting, costumes and natural scenery. The script keeps you guessing until the end. The horror is there as well as the thrill. The film makes the viewers flinch a couple of times and cross their fingers for the outcome. The violent scenes are done just as I like - they are not too gruesome, since the scary parts are rather only hinted at than shown, which makes the horror even more real. The ending of the film is, on my opinion, perfect, although different from what you might expect.
RECOMMENDATION: This is a grown-up version of what Red Riding Hood could be about. It is socially critical, morally challenging and romantic at the same time. I think everyone who likes some thrill together with a few life lessons and good visualisation would enjoy this film.