This is one of the early films from Irish director, Neil Jordan (of Crying game fame). It is one of the earliest attempts at a more "adult" version of the Little Red Riding Hood legend. It tries to explore the themes hidden in the story, such as sexual awakening. And it casts the wolf as a werewolf. It starts in modern times with a girl named Roseleen, who dreams she is in a late 18th century fairytale scenario with her parents and sister. Her sister is murdered by wolves, setting off the events of the story. On a trip to visit her grandmother, Roseleen encounters a handsome nobleman, whos "eyebrows meet in the middle" which her grandmother warned her against. The scene is really well-written as the young Roseleen is both attracted to and afraid of the older man.
It is very stylized and gothic with great acting, scenery and music. There are several mini-stories, told by characters, sprinkled throughout the story, probably to pad out the shortness of the fairy tale itself. The most interesting of these has a noble wedding which gets crashed by the bridegroom's pregnant mistress. She uses magic to turn the gluttonous guests into wovles in a chilling scene.
Jordan complained that his limited budget made him shoot the same set of trees from 5 different angles. Well, he certainly made the most of what he had. The forest has a very fantasy, dream-like quality. The costumes, particularly of the nobles, are top-notch. And most impressively, the were=wolf transformations are excellent. While not "American werewolf in London" quality, they use the effect of having the wolf basically tear through the human skin, reinforcing a "hairy on the inside" theme.
The only problem is the grandmother is played by Angela Landsbury. She chews scenery like she owns it and is really too famous and recognisable, not fitting in the fantasy world at all. I kept expecting her to Murder she wrote and solve the mystery of the wolves. The actress who plays Roseleen, Sarah Patterson, did really well so I was surprised this was one of her only films. She was only 14 at the time, making the scenes with the nobleman even creepier.
A great film that gives one of the best adult versions of a fairy tale I can think of. Although if having a unibrow is the sign of being a werewolf then the entire nation of Turkey must be werewolves:-)