There’s certainly no shortage of movies involving a remote activity holiday which suddenly goes horribly wrong, usually resulting in prolonged suspense and at least one death. In Red Dot, a new Swedish thriller coming to Netflix, the location of the holiday misfortune being suffered is the cold expanse of Northern Sweden and its mountainous forests. The trailer for Red Dot, which surprisingly was relatively short and spoiler-free for a Netflix movie, showed us exactly where the title of the movie originates and was just enough to effectively whet our appetite for some thrilling action.
Having already caught a brief glimpse in the opening moments of the movie just how bad things are set to become for our two protagonists, we join boyfriend and girlfriend David and Nadja a year and a half before their nightmare holiday, in somewhat happier times. David is graduating as an engineer while girlfriend Nadja cheers him on from the audience. He’s about to start a top job, Nadja is studying to be a doctor and David is summoning up the courage to propose to her in the most romantic way possible. There’s talk of moving to Stockholm to start their new life together and things are looking good for the young couple.
Moving on a year and a half to more recent events and things aren’t quite so rosy now. While David sits playing video games after a long shift at work, Nadja is busy sorting out the laundry. They both look tired, and their arguing appears to now be the norm. There’s a casual reference to something that happened recently, something which David did for them as a couple, that didn’t work out so well and whatever it was, it’s now clearly placing some extra strain on their relationship. In an attempt to get away from daily life in order to try and rekindle their romance, David books a short break for them both. A trip to Bear Valley, ski hiking in the mountains and camping under the Northern lights.
The trip gets off to a shaky start when David manages to clip the truck of a couple of hunters while stopping off for gas. And before they even get to the starting location of their hike, there are a further two run-ins with the same pair of hunters. So, when David and Nadja are settling down to sleep in their tent, isolated in the remote frozen landscape, and a couple of red laser-sight dots start focusing on them and the walls of their tent, it’s a fairly reasonable assumption that it’s the two hunters. The couple initially believes that the dots are the work of kids playing around with laser pointers, but when shots are fired and bad things start to happen, David and Nadja are forced to run for their lives into the night.
The unforgiving wilderness conditions occasionally shield them from their pursuers, providing alternative obstacles for them to deal with instead. As blizzards set in, visibility is reduced and dangerous terrain becomes difficult to spot or avoid. In clearer conditions, crossing open ground leaves the couple open to stray bullets. Only a brief stopover in an abandoned cabin provides some respite. A lull in the action and a chance for David and Nadja to contemplate their next move.
By spending some time with Nadja and David early on, we really get to know them as a couple and while being pursued, we never clearly see those that are responsible for hunting them, so are always in the company of those being hunted. However, Red Dot spends much of its final third exploring the motives behind those that are doing the chasing, fully exploring its relevance to David and Nadja and a past which is now coming back to haunt them. It’s a neat little trick and one which made my sympathies begin to shift a little from the hunted to the hunter, and then back again. A nice, tight, enjoyable little thriller.
Red Dot will be available to stream on Netflix from February 11th
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Web developer by day, with a movie and TV watchlist that continues to grow as much as my spare time reduces! My favourite movie is Inception and, despite what everyone says, I do not have a man-crush on Tom Cruise.