So, with Halloween quickly coming up, I wanted to talk about some horror/monster movies that I’ve seen. But, as I got ready to do so, I realized that most of the movies I’ve talked about here end with me being very charitable and positive afterwords.
Let’s not kid ourselves; I’m not the kind of person that gives praise blindly. I’m merely human and, as a human, I’m very much capable of dislike. And one of the things that I dislike is The Company of Wolves.
Giving a plot synopsis, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it would be a fantastic movie. A young girl named Rosaleen is dreaming about living on the edge of a dark wooded area and living with her grandmother(played by Angela Lansbury of Murder, She Wrote fame of all people) as she spins yarns of supernatural tales with a distinctly lupine focus to them – specifically tales of wolves disguised as men and how she needs to be wary of them. Oh, and in case you couldn’t catch the more subtle hints, Rosaleen’s most distinguishing feature through most of the film is her red hooded cloak.
Yes, this is a British, horror/fantasy re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood with werewolves. That should be AMAZING.
But, in one of the most frustrating moments in my life as a film lover (second only to counting the number of times I writhed in my seat in rage every time Star Trek: Into Darkness referenced and ruined a line or moment from the original series/movies), what could have been a great example of a fairy tale getting back to it’s darker roots through the art of horror cinema devolved into a pretentious, messy jambalaya of amateur metaphors and grade-school symbolism that would make even the most stuck-up art snobs hang their head in shame.
The plot moves at a snail’s pace as we spend most of the movie with Rosaleen’s go-nowhere, cutesy, burgeoning romance with a young boy that adds almost nothing to the film. Also, bare in mind that this and every other major event in the film is happening via dream sequence (which we are reminded of by occasional cuts back to Rosaleen in bed in modern times) thus removing their sence of agency.
Instead, the main focus is on the short stories that Granny tells which, while absolutely the most interesting parts of the film, seem to happen too far and few between the filler and just make me feel like the writers just really wanted to make a werewolf anthology film rather than waste time with the Little Red Riding Hood plot points.
Besides, the movie finds a way to ruin those moments as well by the end.
Turns out (spoilers for 30+ year old movie), Granny’s folk tales were real and were meant to be warnings to keep Rosaleen away from men in an effort to protect her womanhood.
Yep, they went with the single most annoying interpretation of the classic story; Little Red Ridding Hood as an allegory for female sexual awakening. Trust me on this; if you ever want to piss off an English major, just bring this up.
I hate this interpretation of the story and especially in this form. It’s incredibly sexist to men and women alike – painting all men as sexual apex predators and all women and their virginity as something frail and sacred to be coddled and protected.
To the movie’s credit, it is visually interesting. The sets and costumes are well designed, the wolf transformations are the best I’ve seen outside of Hemlock Grove, and I’ll be damned if Angela Lansbury doesn’t give it her all given what she had to work with (seriously, she’s the best performer in the whole movie).
That said, it simply wasn’t worth sitting through a 95 minute artistic depiction of puberty (Get it. Werewolves. Hair growing in weird places. Hurr hurr hurr) just to get there. If I may be so bold as to paraphrase “The Cinema Snob” Brad Jones, if I want to see Angela Lansbury in a tale of the supernatural, I’ll stick with Bedknobs and Broomsticks, thank you very much.