Red Dot

 

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Netflix’s first original Nordic thriller turns a winter wonderland into a racist nightmare where a ‘whiteout’ takes on a chilling new resonance.

 

Red Dot
  

The horror starts with a red dot. A highly attractive Swedish couple have taken four days off to spend some quality time together and view the Northern Lights. After they have set up camp on top of the world, it seems the perfect spot for Nadja (Nanna Blondell) to tell David (Anastasios Soulis) that she is pregnant with their child. Seconds later that red dot appears, dancing around their tent – even though they are in the middle of nowhere. It is, of course, a laser projected from the sights of a long-range firearm. It is here that we need to rewind a bit.

 

Opening on the day of David’s graduation as an engineering student, Alain Darborg’s Red Dot introduces its star-cross’d lovers in a cute proposal scenario, where David pops the question over the radio via a cubicle in the gents. He is a hard-working romantic, she a gorgeous medical student of mixed heritage. When his workload and her loneliness get the better of them, they decide on a short vacation to re-stoke their ardour. On the way, out in the frozen wastes of the North, they stop for gas and encounter two surly locals (“inbreds”) with attitude and an Alsatian. For the first time, the colour of Nadja’s skin is alluded to and when racist graffiti is daubed on the boot of their car, she retaliates by scratching the inbreds’ truck with a screwdriver. Of course, one should never provoke complete strangers, however surly their manner, as we learned from last year’s Unhinged.

 

We’ll leave it there, suffice to say that Red Dot, the first original Nordic release platformed by Netflix, mixes elements of Straw Dogs and Deliverance to chilly effect. And Nanna Blondell is a major find, a Swedish beauty with a Ghanaian father who is already causing ripples across the Pond, with a part in the upcoming Marvel blockbuster Black Widow. The other sight for sore eyes is the picturesque scenery of Scandinavia, utilising both Sweden and Norway, while director Alain Darborg exerts a confident command of his actors and camera.

 

So, on one level, Red Dot is a highly accomplished, cardiac-arresting thriller. Yet even as it adheres to the rules of its genre, it also bends them out of shape. Thus, as it hands the viewer a perfectly tooled thrill ride, it then lifts the rug out from beneath them. Such tricks have worked to gratifying effect in genre-conscious movies like Cabin in the Woods, but Red Dot sets out to be a more plausible, mainstream piece, with more in common with Force Majeure than, say, Craig Zobel's corkscrew The Hunt. It is, then, a film of two parts, as likely to alienate as it may delight diehard genre fanatics. Either way, it’s not a film one will forget in a hurry.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Nanna Blondell, Anastasios Soulis, Johannes Kuhnke, Kalled Mustonen, Tomas Bergström, Anna Azcárate.

 

Dir Alain Darborg, Pro Niklas Larsson and Anna Odenhall, Screenplay Alain Darborg and Per Dickson, Ph Benjam Orre, Pro Des Christian Olander, Ed Magnus Häll, Music Carl-Johan Sevedag, Costumes Nicolas Olivier Richard, Sound Kenneth Skoglund.

 

SF Studios-Netflix.

86 mins. Sweden. 2021. Rel: 11 February 2021. Available on Netflix. Cert. 15.