Fever Ray & Catherine Hardwicke Team Up
Catherine Hardwicke, director known for such films as Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown and Twilight, has put her directorial mark on the classic Brothers Grimm tale, Little Red Riding Hood. The dark and twisted tale of Red Riding Hood seems to have Hardwicke’s characteristically complex and beautiful sets designs which have been alternately captured in the presence of a song by Swedish electro star Fever Ray.
The trailer depicts doomed lovers in an apparently ancient village where a ravaging beast, the wolf, scourges the village mercilessly killing by night and walking amongst the villagers by day. From what I can gather, Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) knows who the wolf is either because it is one of her lovers or she has developed some other relationship with it, or perhaps just seen it, thus the only way to stop it is use her as bait. Barring the obvious similarities to Twilight here—the mountainous landscapes, villainous werewolves, the covert yet blatant misogyny—the movie seems striking, mostly due to the aid of the Fever Ray track within the trailer. It is haunting and tortured and when placed alongside the visuals of a long blood red hood sweeping across a pure white snow landscape or an alter of flaming wood stumps with a masked Seyfried amid it; it is a catalyst for a wide-eyed, guttural reaction.
Fever Ray, better known as Karin Dreijer Andersson, rose to musical prominence as the vocalist with the electronic duo the Knife. Their 2003 release, Deep Cuts, spawned the catchy, sadistic “Heartbeats,” while their 2006 release, Silent Shout, instantly shot up on numerous best-of lists and produced five singles. Their dark themes are often accompanied by thick pulses of electronic beats and experimental instrumentation giving the music interest and flare while remaining seeded in the content of the ominous presence of twisted relationships. Fever Ray embodies all this with her music; her shrill and distorted voice intertwined with her physical stage imagery of eerie masks and costumes to create a musical beast that seems perfectly suited for the grotesque and ghostly retelling.
So far the Fever Ray contribution has been slated as only a song, but there have been rumblings, from Hardwicke herself, that Andersson will make a cameo in the film as her Fever Ray persona. She will appear amongst the wreckage of the wolf effigy, with all the villagers dancing and chanting alongside her as she herself, clad in a harvest-style costume, performs her song. Hardwicke seems to be much inspired by Andersson’s style and music, using it to capture the suspenseful distortion of the tale as well as potentially inspire the highly stylized and striking costuming. The scene with Seyfried amidst the flaming wood pieces has her masked in a simplistic yet creepy and startling wolf mask. It seems part Venetian mask inspired but also a nod to Andersson’s quirky and dynamic style on stage.
Similar to Twilight, this film seems excessively stunning in its set design and scenery, unflaggingly beautiful while revealing a great deal of shocking and unnatural imagery, but also monotonous in content. Although only the first of the (soon-to-be) four Twilight films where directed by Hardwicke, it is almost comical how the hype and media machine surrounding them have garnered so much attention that they are able to attract such interestingly diverse but individually great musicians to each piece. I suppose Hardwicke has now been categorized, whether intended or not, into this odd vampire love genre that has recently exploded and must fight to rid it; however, that might now even be a goal. Hardwicke has seemingly embraced her new found role as twisted teenage love director, but with influences like Fever Ray contributing to her projects, all is not lost in this peculiar genre.