Red Dot (dir. Alain Darborg, 2021) – A young couple travels to the north of Sweden for a romantic trip that soon goes awry.
Solitude in the wilderness has seldom boded well for campers, at least on film. Away from civilisation, the adventurers often become easy targets for the malicious, man or beast. The deceptively beautiful hiking trails aren’t exactly safe either. Just ask the boys who had unknowingly braved The Ritual.
Nadja (Nanna Blondell) and Einar (Johannes Kuhnke) heeded none of that warning when they decide to go on a romantic trip to see the northern lights. The couple has long felt a strain on their year-old marriage, therefore pouring the last of their hopes into the belated honeymoon that may rekindle their passion.
As seasoned horror veterans may come to expect, things quickly go wrong. The game between the hunter and hunted begins when the titular Red Dot lands on their tent. Live bullets rip through where they stand as they realise the perils of their isolation.
The violent assailant is not their only threat. Their great escape is met with endless obstacles in the wintry cold. One scene fits squarely within expectations as the brittle ice sheets beneath Einar’s feet start to crack. But such predictability doesn’t take much away from the nerve-wracking impact of his predicament and Nadja’s desperation.
Responsible for these thrills is the effective suspense that Director Alain Darborg and co-writer Per Dickson build up with spot-on pacing. Giving no clue to the sniper’s reasons for his attempted murders, the adept filmmakers keep us on the edge in the dark. Only when the mystery killer leaves fatal traps and grisly displays in his wake, do we get a hint that this might just be personal.
What could anyone have done to deserve this brutality? We are gifted several red herrings in town locals, a mysterious case of vandalism, and a secret that Nadja hides. Not that any of these were convincing as motives to any cinephile with a sharp mind, but they do build up expectations for something more.
The sliver of disappointment comes down hard when the teased twist doesn’t veer far from horror tropes, instead verging on absurdity at parts. Even so, with the thriller kept taut at a mere 85 minutes, the meat of it is enough and remains a delicious dish served cold.
Clocking in at just 85 minutes, Red Dot makes every second count with ample suspense, even if the third act is less than satisfying.
Red Dot is now on Netflix.