The Best Red Riding Hood Film

Red Riding Hood, the recent Twilight-esque adaptation by director Catherine Hardwicke, was a dud at the box office.  The upcoming cartoon sequel, Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs. Evil, is yet another retelling (with modern sensibilities) of the classic "Little Red Riding Hood" story.  As more and more films try to cash in on the current fairy tale trend, the greatest version was the 2005 thriller Hard Candy

Some (including the filmmakers) argue that it is not really a retelling of the children's tale, but the plot has many similarities -- a young girl threatened by a predatory "wolf" -- in this case, a photographer who might be a possible pedophile.  The analogy between the film and the fairy tale is made all the more obvious by the fact that the girl wears a red hoodie sweater during major portions of the flick.

Even if it is not intentionally a remake of "Little Red Riding Hood," it is still the best!  Compare it to other versions of the story, such as Neil Jordan's artsy The Company of Wolves or even Tex Avery's fabulous animated Little Rural Riding Hood, and viewers will realize they are no match for Hard Candy's intensity and greatness.

The cinematography by Jo Willems is a visual delight and the script by Brian Nelson is a real gem.  Director David Slade also deserves plenty of praise for his many dramatic and suspenseful choices.  As is often the case, though, the success of the movie is due to the brilliance of the actors -- the talented Patrick Wilson as the charismatic but often creepy Jeff Kohlver and the wonderful Ellen Page in her first major role as young Hayley Stark.  The strength of the movie lies in the shifting sympathies the audience feels for the characters.  Who is hunting whom? 

As with the original "Little Red Riding Hood," this is a cautionary tale updated for today's Internet generation, but the basics remain the same.  If you haven't seen Hard Candy yet, do yourself a favor and check it out.