Alain Darborg’s Red Dot offers everything you would expect from a survival thriller but struggles to bring anything new to the table. 

Netflix’s first-offering of an original Swedish-language feature brings us to the vast snowy landscapes of the Swedish countryside, accompanied by young, married couple Nadja (Nanna Blondell) and David (Anastasios Soulis). Their marriage is on the rocks or er…on thin ice. Naturally, they embark on a weekend of hiking through the snow and looking for the Northern Lights (when perhaps some couples counselling would have sufficed). As they settle down for their first night, a red dot appears from an unknown shooter in the distance and soon their weekend away shifts to survival. 

Darborg’s misstep is their reliance on common tropes and neglecting the anonymous ‘red dot’ which the film is sold on. In a film where the mystery of the assailant is the main draw, the audience is spoon fed plot points until the eventual end reaches pure predictability whilst the setting never quite feels as isolated and hopeless as it should. Large panning shots of the vast snowscapes are few and far between whilst, inexplicably, much of the film is spent in tight indoor spaces. As a result, the hopeless situation of our not-so happy couple is never communicated as effectively as it could. The threat of the pursuer is real, yet it could be much heavier should we be left in the dark just that bit more. 

The final act brings the satisfaction that we have come to expect from the ‘cat and mouse’ chase; all is revealed and all is explained. It is however unfortunate that the limited cast lays out all too clearly that each ‘insignificant’ character has a role to play. Much more Love, Actually does mystery than Knives Out hits the ski slopes. Red Dot still has its appeal, it ticks all of the right boxes but it is not interested in adding anything new to the list. The couple’s dynamic feels indicative of when domestic life takes over and love loses its spark, it isn’t reinventing the wheel, but without trying to do so, David and Nadja do feel very real. We all know a couple like them (before the whole being pursued through the wilderness debacle anyways). 

If you’re looking for some suspense without too much mental investment, this film is the ticket. There’s enough to keep you immersed, but less to bring you back a second time around.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

‘Red Dot’ is available to watch on Netflix

Reviewed online, via Netflix, February 11th 2021, Rating: 15. Running Time: 86 min.

PRODUCTION: A Netflix release of a SF Studios, ECA & People In The Park Production. Producers: Jenny Stjernströmer Björk, Mattias Ehrenberg, Yabba Holst, Tim King, Niklas Larsson, Anna Odenhall, Annika Sucksdorff & Nicklas Wikström Nicastro.

CREW: Director: Alain Darborg. Screenplay: Alain Darborg & Per Dickson. Cinematography: Benjam Orre. Editing: Magnus Häll. Music: Carl-Johan Sevedag.

CAST: Nanna Blondell, Johannes Kuhnke, Anastasios Soulis, Kalled Mustonen, Thomas Hanzon & Anna Azcárate.

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