The Best Red Riding Hood Movie Is a Dark R-Rated Horror Nightmare, Stream This 80s Fantasy Secret Gem

By Shanna Mathews-Mendez | Updated

The company of wolves

If you’re a fan of horror, dark fantasy, and spins on fairy tales, and you haven’t seen The Company of Wolves, you’re missing out. This film, released in 1984 in the United States, is a cult classic and easily the best take on Red Riding Hood we’ve had, at least in the cinema. Let’s talk about why you should stream it now. 

The Company Of Wolves

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Angela Carter, an epic storyteller, wrote her screenplay, The Company of Wolves, originally as a radio show, but director Neil Jordan partnered with Carter to adapt the screenplay for a film, and the rest is history. 

The film opens with a girl, Rosaleen, played by Sarah Patterson in her debut role, living in the country in the modern day with her parents and her sister. There, she dreams her sister is chased by wolves and killed. As her parents mourn, Rosaleen heads into the woods to visit her grandmother, played by the brilliant Angela Lansbury. 

From this point, The Company of Wolves spins off into multiple tales, all within this dream-like sequence. 

The Grandmother

The grandmother, essentially, is imparting wisdom to Rosaleen, who at this point is clearly Red Riding Hood. Each story she tells, as well as the story Rosaleen tells at the end of the film, deals with humanity’s ability to, or refusal to, confront and live with nature and our baser instincts. 

The wolf, you see, is not always such a bad guy. Perhaps the wolf is something that resides within us all, the stories seem to tell us. Perhaps we try too hard to repress our animal instincts and so they come bursting forth in violence and perversions. 


The Film Asks Important Questions

These questions are what make this film, like Netflix’s anime spin on fairy tales Grimm Variations, great.

First, the grandmother in The Company of Wolves warns Rosaleen not to stray from the path, not to eat a “windfall apple,” and not to trust a man whose eyebrows meet. 

Later, as Rosaleen is wandering through the forest in her red riding hood, taking grandmother a basket of goods, she meets a good-looking huntsman whose eyebrows meet. He challenges her to find her grandmother’s cottage before he can.

In The Actual Company Of Wolves

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When Rosaleen arrives to her grandmother’s cottage to find the huntsman has arrived first and done something terrible, a struggle ensues. She is truly in the company of wolves. The huntsman is wounded and transforms into his true wolf self.

Now, Rosaleen finds she is terrified, mourning her grandmother, attracted to the huntsman, and sympathizing with his pain. 

Not Just A Horror Movie

the company of wolves

This complicated scene tells us that this movie is about so much more than just a young girl being devoured by a wolf. And it is so much more than “just” a horror film. Indeed, Jordan has noted that this film should not be labeled as “horror,” and worried that this misconception would prevent people who would likely love this film from seeing it. 

You can stream The Company of Wolves on Shudder, Fubo, and AMC Plus with Prime now.