Who's In It: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Shiloh Fernandez, Billy Burke, Max Irons, Virginia Madsen, Lukas Haas, Julie Christie
The Basics: Valerie (Seyfried) has a lot of problems. There's a wolf terrorizing her village (it even ate her sister) every time a Blood Moon rises, one hot guy wants to marry her, another hot guy wants to love her in secret, her mom wants her to just behave, her spooky, red-cape-knitting grandmother wants her to stand up for herself, the traveling hambone priest wants to try her for witchcraft and bake her alive in his big metal elephant-shaped oven (yes, really) and then, just when it can't get any more stressful, the big bad wolf starts telepathically communicating with her.
What's The Deal: The adult realization that everyone's favorite girl-power fairy tale is really a very flexible metaphor for female sexual awakening, one that can be used to either caution women against exploring "the woods" alone or to empower them to confront whatever wolves are hassling them in real life, means that a modern update can turn it into just about anything the storyteller wants. And what these storytellers want is the disposable income of itchy, impatient Twihards who need a fix of the pretty-girl-has-to-choose-between-two-boyfriends drug. It opens with little Valerie wearing pants and killing cute little bunnies, and thats reason enough to make you think it's about to become something really bold and cool, that she'll grow into a teen girl with more on her mind than making out with a werewolf. And then she turns into pretty, passive Amanda Seyfried who seems more comfortable dancing to Fever Ray songs (that really happens, too, weirdly enough) than with fighting back against the forces out to ruin her life.
Solving The Mystery: For most of the running time this is a straight-up whodunit, with Seyfried as the entire Scooby Gang. She spends her freaked-out Week of The Blood Moon looking directly into the eyes of her family and neighbors trying to figure out who's looks the wolfiest. But if you're watching any big Hollywood movie that thinks it's smarter than you, you can generally figure that kind of thing out all by yourself long before the protagonist. Hint: It's always the name-actor wandering around with no apparent reason for being there. The less that actor has to do with the film's plot, the more likely that s/he's the one responsible for all the murders.
Why It's Such a Bummer: Director Catherine Hardwicke might not be a great filmmaker but she has a consistent, admirable interest in telling stories about young girls in trouble. She made Thirteen, The Nativity Story and the first (and the only decently watchable) Twilight installment, but this one is all out of control. Seyfried's character is pulled in so many directions you never really figure out who she's supposed to be; she never seems to know either.
Better Red: After this one is finished swooning all over you go check out The Company of Wolves, the cheapo-yet-feisty and genuinely feminist 1984 retelling from director Neil Jordan. (It also features insanely cool, non-digital wolf transformation scenes that will give you a whole new way of thinking about the expression "meat puppet.") Then catch the bonkers early-Reese Witherspoon crime comedy Freeway, where she plays a very, very, very bad and inadvertent Red.