[Note: This review contains spoilers]
Ancient tradition and modern capitalism collide in this striking, and strikingly confident, debut feature from Zambian-Welsh filmmaker Rungano Nyoni, who draws on her dual background to craft a tale rich in murky superstition and clear-eyed social commentary. It is set in the small communities around Zambia’s capital Lusaka, whose inhabitants wear modern clothes, listen to Western music and place great faith in old ideas of spirits and witchcraft.
Greenlighting this updated Red Riding Hood must have seemed like a no-brainer; combine the current trend for modern gothic – angst-ridden vampires and emotionally conflicted werewolves – with the familiar set up of an ever-green fairy tale, a beautiful cast and the director of the teen behemoth Twilight and you’ve got a sure fire winner, right? But, as so often happens, it seems that so much stock has been placed in replicating a seemingly winning formula that no care was taken to ensure that the resulting film had any emotional heart, or even a cohesive narrative.