Little Dead Rotting Hood (2016)

Rating: C

Dir: Jared Cohn
Star: Eric Balfour, Romeo Miller, Bianca A. Santos, Amy Argyle

This is described on its Wikipedia page as “a mockbuster of the Warner Bros. romance horror film Red Riding Hood.” I think that’s a tad inaccurate, not least because Rotting didn’t come out until five years later. It’s probably fairer to say that both are spins on the classic fairy tale, and while this fumbles the execution, I would say it has better, more interesting ideas than its bigger-budgeted pack-mate. It turns Red into a werewolf hunter, who comes back from the grave to protect her Appalachian town of Stillwater from marauding lycanthropes. Yeah, it’s already a better romance than Amanda Seyfried making gooey eyes at the woodcutter, not least because it isn’t a romance at all.

The central character, however, is local sheriff Adam (Balfour), who first has to deal with the apparent suicide of local eccentric, the Wolf Lady (a cameoing Maria Sirtis), then a spree of vicious apparent animal attacks, as well as the disappearance of the Wolf Lady’s grand-daughter, Samantha (Santos). Samantha’s boyfriend, Danny (Miller), is thoroughly concerned, and a newcomer shows up in town, Becky (Argyle), who hints at knowing more about the true nature of the situation. Turns out Samantha died, and was resurrected as Red, carrying on her grandmother’s legacy, since Granny was the only thing standing between Stillwater and a pack of werewolves. Quite why they didn’t simply move to another town, unprotected by an enthusiastic senior citizen vigilante, is never explained.

When this is operating within its limitations, the results are decently entertaining. Balfour provides a good core around which the narrative can be spun, assisted by Patrick Muldoon as his deputy. In the early going, most of the attacks are staged using trained wolves, and are effectively brutal in nature. The idea of Red Riding Hood as a bad-ass slayer is vaguely Buffy-esque, with the addition of it being a generational talent, though what happened to Samantha’s mother is also not of importance to the film. If they has simply kept to Samantha stocking up on wolf pelts for the winter, it could potentially have ended up among the top tier of Asylum movies [well, ones not involving sharks, at least].

Instead, it kinda falls apart in the final reel, mostly through over-ambition. It’s fine when sticking to actual animals, or even hinting at human to wolf transformations. The problem is the scenes using CGI werewolves, where the resources are simply not up to the demands placed on the VFX department. I suspect the scenes in question were, at best, barely adequate when the film was released. Eight years later and you could get better results by typing “werewolves” into a third-tier AI generator. It feels like someone told the effects team, “Give us something which will destroy all suspension of disbelief, entirely removing the audience from the scenario,” and they delivered in spades. The story, and at least some of the actors, deserved rather better.