Catherine Hardwicke has a natural talent for directing sweeping tales of revered epics, as she did with The Nativity Story, a latent ability that did not seem to emerge until after writing and directing the darkly straightforward 2003 film Thirteen. With Red Riding Hood, Hardwicke takes the time-honored fairy tale of the girl who boldly ventures through the woods to grandma's house and manages to suffuse it with thematic meanings that were never present in the original.

In the village of Daggerhorn, there exists an ancient legend of a werewolf who appears during the cycle of the blood red moon, killing anyone in its peripheral vision. When the local priest, Father August (Lukas Haas), suggests inviting a maniacal man of the cloth/wolf hunter, Father Solomon (the ever unintentionally humorous Gary Oldman), to solve the problem, a pandemic of fear and paranoia spreads throughout the village as everyone is convinced that the wolf is someone he or she knows and trusts. In Valerie's case (Amanda Seyfried), her true love, Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), an outcast woodcutter, lately does not seem to be who she thought he was. Even the boy Valerie will be forced to marry, Henry (Max Irons), learned in the trade of blacksmithing, is not really someone she can place faith in either.

Against this backdrop of agitation and anxiety, Valerie cannot deny her simultaneous feelings of lust and love for Peter (perhaps named such because of the whole "Peter and the Wolf" correlation). In fact, it looks as though she just about cums in her pants (or rather, corset?) when Peter asserts, "I'm wrong for you." It's almost as though he knows the secret to getting a girl to put out is acting aloof. Valerie's mother, Suzette (Virginia Madsen of Sideways fame), the primary reason for the arranged nuptials between Valerie and Henry, cautions Peter against pursuing Valerie any further, using that old cherry of a line, "If you love her, you'll let her go."

All the while, Valerie's also got the overwhelming suspicion that her dear old grandmother (played by Julie Christie--yeah, yeah she's still alive) could potentially be a candidate for being the wolf as well. All in all, Red Riding Hood is like an homage to both Clue and Nancy Drew--the former in terms of no one being inculpable of suspicion, the latter in terms of somewhat arbitrary sleuthing skills. And one other thing, you'll never guess who the wolf really is. If Hardwicke blows all the right people, she can definitely get a sequel out of this.