Once Upon a Crime (2023)

Once Upon a Crime (2023)

There’s no justice when Little Red Riding Hood plays detective in this campy Japanese murder mystery



Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy
Atsuhiro Inukai, Jiro Sato, Kanna Hashimoto
105 min


The real crime is that ending.

What it's about

When Little Red Riding Hood bumps into Cinderella in the woods, she encourages her to go to the Prince’s ball together. However, the murder of the Royal Hairdresser interrupts the ball, and it’s up to Little Red to solve the case.

The take

Fairytale parodies reimagine these classic tales to reexamine or question its related themes. Once Upon a Crime attempts to do this by imagining Little Red Riding Hood as a detective investigating the murder of a hairdresser in Cinderella’s ball. The campy glamor of the costumes and sets, as well as the incongruence of Little Red’s detective mindset, makes the film watchable. However, the film takes strange twists that stray too far from the original stories. And while the cut locks make an intriguing metaphor, the resulting ending betrays any sense of justice for the characters, most especially the abused Cinderella.

What stands out

The film’s plot, direction, and dialogue are shaky, but if there’s one thing this film has, it’s the costumes. The costumes are absolutely delightful. The costumes have precisely the pomp and glamor of a fantastical tale, but also a campy twist to the style of the European nobility. Instead of pearls, the ladies have their hair adorned with fake butterflies, flowers, and fruits in their braids. The hairstylist plot also demanded the trendy short asymmetrical bobs of the 2020s, and the costume designers didn’t shy away from bold colors and prints to highlight certain characters. These make the film’s style look so interesting and unique.


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