Before we begin, the crew would like to officially welcome Richard Martin onboard! We can’t wait to bring you more review from him.-LG
On a hiking trip to rekindle their marriage, a couple find themselves fleeing for their lives in the unforgiving wilderness from an unknown shooter.
Starring: Nanna Blondell, Anastasios Soulis, Johannes Kuhnke, Kalled Mustonen and Thomas Hanzon | Runtime: 1 hr 26 minutes | Genre: Horror, Drama, Thriller | Language: Swedish (subs available) | Source: Netflix | Starred Review
Red Dot Review
The first Swedish made Netflix original, Red Dot is a bold statement to kickstart what is hopefully a sign of more movies funded by the streaming giant hailing from this Scandinavian country. Anyone going in expecting a Nordic noir populated with corrupt detectives and dysfunctional families are in for a hell of a shock.
Nadja (Nanna Blondell) and David (Anastasios Soulis) are recently married and are already losing the spark they once had. David works long hours at his engineering job and doesn’t pull his weight when he gets home. Nadja is studying to be a doctor whilst hiding a pregnancy from David, unsure either are ready to be parents. In order to re-kindle the magic they once had David suggests a trip into the wildernesses of Sweden to spend some quality time together.
Things take a turn for the sinister before they even arrive. An uncomfortable encounter with a pair of hunters at a gas station and a strange meeting with the local hotel owner sets the scene for a trip from hell, as Nadja and David find themselves the target of an unknown shooter who pursues them relentlessly through the bleak wilderness as the pair fight for their survival.
While the synopsis may suggest a drama/thriller, and while Red Dot certainly has elements of both, it is very squarely and unapologetically, a horror movie. Like a cross between Wrong Turn and The Revenant, the film is action packed and incredibly tense, but also unrelentingly downbeat and bleak. There are some very violent and disturbing set pieces that are certainly not for the faint hearted and there are a lot of big themes addressed throughout which may make it a tough watch for a lot of viewers.
The setting of northern Sweden is a perfect location for a horror movie and we see it through Nadja’s and David’s eyes. When they first arrive it is an unbelievably beautiful setting, with wide shots of crisp snow and clear skies but when things take a more sinister turn the setting becomes more inhospitable, with close ups of weather beaten faces and a pervading sense of isolation. The snowy wilds become just as much of a foe to Nadja and David as their mysterious pursuer.
Red Dot is a film that asks a great deal of their actors. Both Nadja and David are rarely off-screen and the extremes of their experience once the movie gets going demand a commitment to the role which, I’m glad to say, both deliver in spades. Nanna Blondell, in particular, delivers a fantastic performance, switching effortlessly between the funny and likeable character we meet in the beginning, to the strong, intense, troubled woman who fights through a seemingly impossible situation.
What lets the movie down somewhat is the script. The opening fifteen minutes are riddled with cliches. There is a nice opening moment with a comically botched proposal but, cut forward and David is working long hours and spending his downtime playing video games. Nadja is feeling put-upon and is also hiding a secret pregnancy. It’s a set up that we’ve seen a thousand times before and while I won’t go so far as to claim it isn’t effective, it is disappointing that the film couldn’t come out on a stronger note, considering how powerful what follows is.
It was the ending, however, that was the biggest disappointment. The bulk of the film is pitch-perfect in is brutal simplicity but the ending descends into twists upon twists, most of them needlessly convoluted and unlikely, almost to the point where it becomes unintentionally comical. It wouldn’t be so jarring if the rest of the film hadn’t been so tight in terms of gradual reveals and building the tension.
Red Dot is unrelentingly bleak and boasts a great cast and a fantastic location. While it has somewhat of a shaky start, with an ending that overcompensates for the overly familiar tropes of the opening by throwing too much at the viewer in the closing segment, the rest of the film is an absolute masterclass in building suspense, punctuated with shocking acts of brutality. It is a brave film and hopefully, the kind of film Netflix continues to support with its originals going forward.
3.5 out of 5
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