Werewolf tale lacks bite

Film
RED RIDING HOOD
Cert: 12A
TEENAGERS, werewolves and a classic love triangle. Sound familiar? Well, this is the latest offering from director Catherine Hardwicke who brought the first Twilight film to our screens – and Red Riding Hood has Twilight written all over it, with panning overhead forest shots, speeded-up chases and a ravenous black werewolf. Sadly, that’s where the positive similarities end. There’s no sexual chemistry, no eerie atmosphere, zero believability – and frankly, without R-Patz magnified on screen, is there really any point?

Red Riding Hood, a modern take on the old fairytale, is set in a medieval village which looks like Hyde Park’s Christmas Winter Wonderland. Following an attack by the big bad wolf, village folk are sent scattering, locking their doors and praying for protection, until famed werewolf hunter Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) arrives. When he reveals that the wolf is in fact a normal human by day, the townsfolk are put further on edge – not least the pale-skinned, rosy-lipped, red-caped maiden Valerie (Amanda Seyfried).
Poor Valerie. She’s already having a tough time trying to choose between Henry, the eligible bachelor (Max Irons) and Peter, a bad-boy woodcutter. But could one of them be the wolf? Drama!

A rare red moon elicits a hairy killing spree, and after an hour most of the cast has been dispatched – not that we care. We just want to see who Valerie cops off with.

At least the film does deliver (a bit) on the murder-mystery front, keeping us guessing until the end (no, it’s not the grandmother). Also, the crimson cape is fabulous – that’s undeniable.

Leo Bear

Theatre
MOONLIGHT
Donmar Warehouse
A SLIVER of a girl, with slicked back hair and bruises around her legs, appears on stage. She delivers an eerie monologue in the short, simple sentences of a child. She’s afraid of waking her parents. She knows things are quieter at night, but she’s still afraid of waking them. Then she’s gone.

This strange, bruised ghost is the voice of betrayal and sorrow beyond the grave, and the way Harold Pinter – in his last full-length play (1993) – conducts us into the world of a dysfunctional family. The play centres around a dying, vituperative father, played with grating menace by David Bradley, who fears the “horizon” waiting for him in death. By his side is his laconic wife (Deborah Findley). Noticeably absent from the deathbed are their two runaway, seemingly insane sons and Bridget, the ghostly daughter.

They’re all deeply damaged – that much is clear. Adultery has marred the couple’s life together, and as for the kids, one is dead, the others mad. There are hints at a past we know frustratingly little about.

In typical Pinterian style, it’s hard to put your finger on just what is wrong, what went wrong, or where the menace lies.

It’s not Pinter’s best play – not by a long shot. It’s one of his least political, which some have called a relief, but it’s also patchily structured and much of it feels spurious. The production is efficient, but hardly zings. The set is minimalist and neat, turning spotlights on actors in a given scene while the others lurk in darkness.

Moonlight is mostly engaging, but it doesn’t show either the Donmar, Pinter, or even some of the actors, at their best.

Zoe Strimpel