Red Riding (2012) – By Cary Conley

The story within this film is quite simple: while dancing in the forest, a beautiful young woman dressed all in red meets a handsome stranger in black. But what begins as a playful and flirtatious chase through the woods ends up as something a bit more sinister.

Using only dance movements, body language, facial expressions, and music, this take on Little Red Riding Hood is a beautiful, seven-minute short with a very simple and age-old message about strangers. The film opens as we see a young lady in a strikingly bright red dress dancing in a clearing in the woods. She is young, happy, innocent. But as we watch Red Riding through the tree branches, a black coat blocks the camera’s view. It is a handsome young man who has happened upon this gorgeous sprite dancing in the woods. He approaches and when she sees him her look of joy is immediately replaced by surprise and maybe a touch of fear. But with a wink and a little half-smile, the stranger is able to change the mood back to one of playfulness. Red Riding gives the young man a smolderingly sexy look, and they embrace, kissing gently, then more hungrily. Suddenly, Red Riding bounds through the forest, the mysterious stranger playfully giving chase. Using the strength and grace of ballet dancers, the two skip through the trees, jumping over fallen logs and through thickets of branches. But the cat-and-mouse game comes to an abrupt end as one character, again with just a simple smile, changes the mood yet again.

Red Riding is an artfully crafted fairytale that manages to evoke powerful emotions within the viewer just by movement, expression, and music. The two leads are able to change the mood of the film simply by facial expression and the meaning is crystal clear to the viewer. The musical score by Icelandic composer Biggi Hilmars is as beautiful as the actors and their movements, and expertly manipulates the viewer’s emotions as well. The cinematography is also superb, with well-planned and orchestrated shots such as Red Riding dancing in the single patch of sunlight in the forest, or the blurred patch of red spinning at a distance as the dark coat of the stranger enters the foreground and we realize Red Riding is being watched. My favorite shot is of Red Riding filmed from above as she spins, the red skirt of her dress twirling along with her, mirroring her outstretched arms. There are numerous creative angles calculated to give the viewer exactly the information needed. And while there is plenty of dappled sunlight in the forest, co-directors Louis J. Parker and Dominique Miranda choose a darkly ominous section of the forest with which to end their film, foreshadowing the possibility of violence.

Red Riding is a beautifully constructed film that expertly manipulates the audience and tells the story of these characters with nary a single word spoken. Parker and Miranda have created a unique and entertaining film short that has won numerous accolades from many festivals, both in Great Britain as well as online. To view the film yourself, go to http://vimeo.com/46851382. If you enjoy a touch of artiness with your film, you will be pleased with Red Riding.