Red Dot, On Netflix, Misses Its Shot, Film Companion

A woman instinctively turns into a fighter when she is loaded with the responsibility of caring for her child. This fact may partly be the reason for Nadja’s (Nanna Blondell) impulse to elongate a tiff with two local boys. She is pregnant and on a ski trip with her husband, David (Anastasios Soulis). It’s David who unintentionally puts a “tiny scratch” on the boys’ car. They take revenge by denting his car. The score is now equal, but when the couple comes across the vehicle again, Nadja takes a screwdriver and sketches a big horizontal line on their door. Director Alain Darborg with writer Per Dickson mounts the plot of the Swedish film Red Dot on these incidents. As a viewer, you predict Nadja’s actions will bring harmful consequences because the two boys are introduced in a villainous style as they ogle at Nadja. Red Dot panders to your expectations when it reveals a red laser dot from a sniper inside David and Nadja’s tent at night. If you suspect the boys to be the perpetrators (which many would expectedly believe), then you are on the same page as the film.

Nadja and David join the list of a million other protagonists who, in search of peace and solitude, go to a far-flung location. Whereas Red Dot joins the list of films that situate themselves in some lonely scenic environment in order to toss trouble on their characters. The gorgeous wide-shots double up as an indication of extreme remoteness (translation: you are on your own). For a fair amount of time, though, god seems to be on the couple’s side when the snowstorm introduces obscurity in the surrounding, allowing them to conceal themselves from the hunters. With complete whiteness enclosing the frame, the visual you get is that of heaven. Although this heaven remains in the setting: in reality, Nadja and David are just moving through the redness of hell. A few gunshots later, blood surfaces from David’s body.

Films like Red Dot merely delay the conclusion. The killer may be standing with a gun to the victim’s face, but he chooses to indulge in grand theatricals instead of pulling the trigger. Red Dot gives a reason for the delayed torture. You can understand why the person would not just instantly fire the bullet. But you also have to ask whether the justification is strong or effective enough to propel the film for a few more minutes. In Red Dot‘s case, it is strong but not effective enough. I am all for the billionth personal revenge story, provided it hits the necessary notes in the plot. Here, it just comes and goes like a fly casually passing by your window. The result: you don’t feel the plight of the characters.

The best I can do is appreciate Darborg for not introducing a pool of gore or an uncurbed bloodbath, which narratives like this usually end up doing. Blondell and Soulis do a pretty good job highlighting the helplessness of people trapped in an unfortunate situation. The duo brings out the romance from their paper-thin bond. There is a hold-your-breath scene where Nadja and David crawl under a hole to escape from the attacker, only to find another danger resting behind them. One can also praise Darborg for daring to shift gears, flipping the story a 180 degrees. However, it’s also nothing but Darborg’s attempt to cover one cliché with the help of another cliché. My gripe remains the same: nothing he does has an impact on your movie-watching experience. You can introduce as many twists as there are curls in a noodle, but they should leave an impression on the audience. While watching Red Dot, you are neither consistently thrilled nor excited. The closest you feel to anything resembling vicious comes during a scene where a drilling machine threatens to cut into a stomach. But even that ends up being nothing more than a minor sting in your arm. And that’s not too hard to scratch off.

Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.

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