Australian Council on Children and the Media

Red Riding Hood

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Not suitable under 13, not recommended 13-15 (Violence; Disturbing scenes and themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Red Riding Hood
  • a review of Red Riding Hood completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 22 March 2011.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to violence and disturbing scenes and themes
Children 13-14 Not recommended due to disturbing scenes and themes
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Red Riding Hood
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Supernatural themes and violence
Length 100 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This version of the well-known Red Riding Hood story is set in medieval times in a small village. Valerie. (Amanda Seyfried) and Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) are a couple in love but Valerie’s parents have arranged for her to marry Henry (Max Irons), the well-off son of the village blacksmith. Valerie and Peter intend to run away, but their plans are ruined when Valerie’s sister is killed by the local werewolf. For years the villages have maintained a truce with the werewolf by offering a sacrificial animal each full moon, but now the werewolf has broken the truce by killing Valerie’s sister.

Outraged by the murder, the villagers band together and go off to hunt down the werewolf. They manage to kill what they believe to be the werewolf but the village priest Father Auguste (Lukas Haas) has called in the famed werewolf hunter Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), who announces that what the villages killed was just an ordinary wolf. The real werewolf takes on human form by day and could be any one of them.

The werewolf then attacks the village and confronts Valerie. She finds that she is able to hear the wolf’s thoughts and this is just the beginning of her struggles.    

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

The supernatural, werewolves, torture

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is violence in this movie including:

  • Valerie and Peter as children trap a rabbit and Peter holds a knife to its throat, saying that he could make a pair of hunting boots from the rabbit. .
  • We see a group of men walking through a cave and see the image of a wolf’s head  on the cave wall, then hear the sound of a man screaming and see the body of a dead man lying on the cave floor.
  • Father Solomon talks about how he cut off the paw of a werewolf with his axe, and then a short time later found his wife with a bandage wrapped around the stump of her severed hand and was forced to kill her.      
  • A group of soldiers ransack village houses while the occupants look on fearful and crying. 
  • Peter holds a knife to a man’s throat while threatening him.
  • When the werewolf attacks the village, it jumps at men knocking them to the ground while it hurls other men through he air. The wolf attacks one person and we see blood splatter over a book. Several men lasso the wolf with ropes and the wolf bites the arm of a man. At the end of the wolf’s attack the village resembles a battle ground with the ground littered with dead bodies and wreckage.       
  • Father Solomon kills a wounded soldier, ruthlessly stabbing the soldier in the chest, after the soldier was bitten by the werewolf. We here the soldier’s brother pleading for the man’s life with Solomon ignoring the man’s pleas.
  • Father Solomon tortures an intellectually disabled boy by locking him inside a giant metal oven with a fire lit underneath. We hear the boy screaming and Solomon tells people that the torture was being done for the greater good.
  • Valerie is paraded through the village streets, her hands chained and manacled and she is forced to wear a metal wolf’s mask. At the end of the walk Valerie is tied to a wooden stage and left as sacrifice for the werewolf.
  • The werewolf bites off Father Solomon’s hand and we see the bloody severed hand, still clutching a sword, lying on the ground in a pool of blood.
  • Father Solomon violently throws Valerie to the ground. She hits her head on a statue and is knocked unconscious.
  • When Peter appears unannounced in front of Valerie, she slashes out with a knife cutting Peter across his stomach.
  • In a fight between Peter and Valerie’s father, Peter attacks Valerie’s father with an axe and Valerie stabs her father in the chest with a severed hand that has sharp silver fingernails. 

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Villagers carry a severed wolf’s head on a pole.
  • We hear that animals were being sacrificed to the werewolf and see a little girl crying next to a piglet that is about to be sacrificed.
  • Father Solomon shows a group of villagers a small box containing the severed, bandaged hand of his dead wife.
  • Scenes of a man’s fingers pushing into a large piece of bloodied meat, pulling off smaller pieces of meat and placing them in his mouth
  • In one scene the werewolf places its paw on holy ground and we see the paw smoke and blacken and hear it sizzle and see sparks fly.
  • In a dream, Valerie lies in bed next to her grandmother who gradually becomes wolf-like and jumps at Valerie.
  • Valerie kneels over the dead body of her father and uses a knife to cut deeply into her father’s chest cavity. Valerie and Peter place a number of stones in the chest cavity which Valerie then stitches up before they push the body into a lake. 
  • Throughout the film we see quick shadowy images of a wolf flashing across the screen, and at the end of the credits the shadowy image of a wolf appears to leap out of the screen.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also likely be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • We hear about an arranged marriage for Valerie, and Valerie’s mother wanting money in return for her
  • When Peter tells Valerie that he no longer wishes to marry her he says “we had some fun, that’s all it was”.
  • Valerie’s mother tells Valerie that before she married Valerie’s father she had an affair with another man. Valerie’s older sister was a result of that affair and Valerie’s father did not know this.
  • Peter flirts with a young woman.  Reference is made to the woman being Peter’s new conquest, and Peter tells Valerie “I don’t have to like her to get what I want from her”.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • During a party a drunken man pretends to make sexual thrusts while bending over a second man who is lying unconscious on the ground.
  • During a party Peter dances in a sensual manner with a young woman making pelvic thrusts. Valerie dances in a similar manner with a young woman.
  • Peter and Valerie kiss each other passionately on the lips. Valerie wraps her legs around Peter and he carries her into a barn.  They lie on the ground with Peter on top, kissing passionately and breathing heavily. Peter begins to untie the laces on Valerie’s scooped-necked bodice before they are interrupted.
  • A young woman offers herself to Father Solomon in exchange for Father Solomon releasing her brother from prison.
  • Father Solomon caresses Valerie’s back in a suggestive manner.
  • In a dream-like scene, Peter lies on top of Valerie on her red cloak. Bare shoulders suggest that they are naked.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Throughout the film Valerie’s father drinks from a leather flask. He appears drunk on a number of occasions. 
  • Several scenes depict a large group of people drinking in the local tavern.
  • An outdoor party features both men and woman drinking to the point of drunkenness.

Coarse language

There are occasional putdowns and name calling. Examples include:

  • “oaf”, “witch”, “devil’s daughter”, “harlot”

In a nutshell

Red Riding Hood is a fantasy romance with elements of horror. It appears to be aimed at a teenage audience. It is directed by Catherine Hardwicke, who also directed the Twilight series of film, and like the Twilight films, has a gothic feel, a story involving a love triangle and a strong supernatural element. Red Riding Hood’s themes and disturbing scenes make it unsuitable for a younger audience and he Australian Classification Board issued a media release warning parents about the film.

The main message from this movie, which parents which parents may not feel is a positive one, is that love is worth risking everything for, regardless of the consequences or the cost to others.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with older children include courage and selflessness. Peter repeatedly displays courage and selflessness as he protects Valerie from both the werewolf and Father Solomon. He eventually pays the ultimate cost for his acts of bravery when he is bitten by the werewolf and cursed for life.

Parents may also wish to discuss the behaviour of Father Solomon and his justification for inflicting torture on an intellectually disabled boy.

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