Where are all the Werewolves?

Red Riding Hood, directed by Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke, is released in the UK this Friday.

Currently, it has a weighted average rating of 4.7/10 on the IMDb, from 3,800+ user votes. Of these, the highest weighted average – 7/10 – come from female users aged under 18; if we look at female users aged 18-29, the score decreases to 6/10; for females users aged 30-44, the score decreases to 5.7/10; for female users aged 45+, it decreases to 5.3/10. (In all categories, male users rate it lower than females, but male users aged 45+ rate it higher than those under 18 do – though there are 13 more of them voting.)

If we agree that the vast majority of serious film viewers are older than 18, then, we can also agree that Red Riding Hood is not rated highly among serious viewers. But if we watch the official trailer, it doesn’t seem catered to older audiences, it seems catered to those to whom Twilight (2008) was targeted. Just as the trailer to that film played off genre stereotypes, Red Riding Hood‘s trailer plays off assumptions about the age-old fairytale from which the film takes its title.

Hardwicke’s film seems very much “post-Twilight“: its trailer, clocking in at a very short 1 minute 20, could easily be its director announcing herself as a Team Jacob member, in homage to the werewolf who never got a look-in back in the 2008 film’s trailer. If the story of Little Red Riding Hood is one of childhood horror, Hardwicke’s film looks sexy and hip in the same way her previous film did. And crucially, it doesn’t look too serious.

This isn’t a call to arms for serious werewolf films in general, though. There are plenty to be had, for sure. But what makes Red Riding Hood even more interesting – dreadful or not – is that it appears to be the first blockbuster that actually sets the myth in its rightful medieval setting. And as such, it might deserve a more serious approach and a more mature target audience.

Over at the idFilm message board I moderate, for instance, one member asked recently, “what werewolf movie is set farthest back in the past? Has there ever even been one prior to the late 19th century? This is medieval folklore, why has there never been a medieval setting?”

In a follow-up post, the same member brought up four (or five) films with a medieval setting: 1984’s The Company of Wolves, which is technically medieval but just as much a fairytale setting; 2004’s Werewolf Warrior and Werewolf Warrior 2, Japanese samurai films set in the correct time period but not the right place; 2009’s Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, which isn’t a traditional werewolf movie and, as the idFilm member writes, is “just as much a vampire movie”; and now Red Riding Hood, which appears once again to have that fairytale veneer.

So where are all the werewolf films with the correct historical setting, place and type of story? If you know of one, do get in touch. In the meantime, it seems we have to make do with Amanda Seyfried (pictured) clad in red against conveniently alluring white snow…

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About The Author

Michael Pattison is a film critic from Gateshead.

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