Movie novelizations have always been an excellent way to see the rough draft of any film’s screenplay prior to editing. Deleted scenes, unused material, and an inside look at the characters and storyline as well as the plot’s settings and main scenes are all grounded reasons for “previewing” a movie’s content before or after actually watching it in action onscreen. Movies based on fairy tales are now taking the movie industry by storm with their dark Gothic aura. However, the latest modern debut of this revived genre, the 2011 film Red Riding Hood, has been considered by most viewers to be a mitigated cinematic disaster. Despite this consensus, Sarah Blakley-Cartwright’s Red Riding Hood is a startling novel of the film, published months prior to the movie’s theatrical release, which can be helpful to any potential or previous viewer of Red Riding Hood. Although the novel’s ending and final chapter can only be read online, the rest of the story is there as based on the initial screenplay. Unfortunately, since the novel is more or less a written form of the film, there never is a question of whether Red Riding Hood is a good novel per se. Instead, the only result of perusing it is the obvious confirmation of how all the narrative’s fantasy elements are glaringly similar to those in the Twilight series.
Aside from the adult recreation of Little Red Riding Hood, the romance in Red Riding Hood also carries a copy of that hopeless love triangle first introduced by Stephenie Meyer. Valerie’s inexplicable passion for dangerous Peter and her rejection of Henry, the “good guy” who is everything Valerie needs and deserves but nothing she wants, seems like a familiar scenario from young adult horror literature. Moreover, Valerie’s connection and fascination with the bloodthirsty werewolf attacking her town reeks of unoriginal ideas. Some of the contemplative descriptions and comparisons in the novel are exceptionally creative, but it is up to the reader to decide whether Red Riding Hood is merely a Gothic teenage romance upgraded to a more “sophisticated” fairy tale status or an unedited film screenplay with acceptable transitions tied in between dialogues. Beware of graphic violence and sexuality presented in full detail by the author. In the end, experiencing Red Riding Hood as a book consists of a continuous rivalry between the 2011 film as is and what its storyline could have been.
Red Riding Hood is available in local libraries and bookstores in Fresno, and online.