Red Dot

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Red Dot Movie Poster Image
Violence, language in uneven Swedish horror-thriller.
  • NR
  • 2021
  • 86 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

 Explores themes of revenge and retribution.

Positive Role Models

Lead female character is strong and independent, almost always taking the initiative in the fight for survival. The two lead characters, one of whom a person of color, find that someone has vandalized their car with a racial slur.

Violence

Characters shot and killed with rifles. Child killed in a hit-and-run accident. Characters shot at by an unknown assailant as they see nothing in the dark except the assailant's red laser pointer. Character strikes another with a rock to the head, killing them. A missing dog is found in a tent, its head severed. A man holds a rifle to another man and orders him to drill the midsection of his pregnant wife, is unable to do so. Character shot with a flare, set on fire. Character gets their forearm caught in a bear trap. Constant peril, characters shown in extreme trauma. Character hit in head with a rifle butt. Character shot in leg. Near-drowning after falling through thin ice.

Sex
Language

Constant profanity. "F--k" often used. Also: "c--ts," "s--t," "damn," "hell." A racial slur. Character makes a pun on the word "syphilis."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Champagne drinking. Drinking in a bar, no drunkenness. Whiskey drinking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Red Dot is a 2021 horror-thriller in which a married couple on a camping trip find themselves pursued by an unknown assailant with a rifle. Expect violence throughout, as characters are shot and killed with rifles, a child is killed in a hit-and-run accident, and a character is killed by a rock to the head. A character is shot with a flare and set on fire. In one of the more disturbing scenes, the couple return to their tent to find their dog's severed head. A character's forearm gets caught in a bear trap. Near drowning in an icy lake when the thin ice breaks. Constant peril and trauma. There's also constant profanity, including "f--k" often used. The two lead characters, one of whom a person of color, find that someone has vandalized their car with a racial slur. In Swedish, with English subtitles.

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What's the story?

In RED DOTDavid and Nadja are a young Stockholm married couple whose marriage seems to be in trouble. In an attempt to rekindle their love for each other, David surprises Nadja with the opportunity to go on a weekend camping trip to northern Sweden, where they can spend quality time under the Northern Lights. Soon, with their pet dog Boris along for the ride, the couple make the trek to the north, but their trip soon hits a snag after an unpleasant interaction with a creepy and racist hunter at a gas station. When they arrive at the inn where they'll spend their first night, they see the hunter drinking in the bar, and wake up the next morning to find a racial slur scrawled on the back of their car. When they see the hunter's truck parked outside a general store, Nadja decides to get revenge by scratching the side of the truck with a screwdriver. They narrowly escape, and believe that the altercation is over once they start to hike and set up their tent for the night. Their tranquility is short lived, as they soon discover a red dot that follows them, usually pointed at their heads. Shots are fired, and David and Nadja must run for their lives through the snow and the cold. Now, a fight for survival ensues as the couple must find out who exactly is trying to kill them, and why.

Is it any good?

This uneven thriller could have been great, but too many issues keep it from reaching that potential. Intense action paired with plot twists that grow increasingly absurd. That's Red Dot, a Swedish horror-thriller that plays with the tried-and-true "city folk go into the country where they are pursued by homicidal countryfolk" storyline to meditate on themes of revenge and retribution. Although, "meditate" may be too tranquil of a word, as the young Stockholm married couple, David and Nadja, endure endless trauma, near-death, and torture once that titular red dot makes its first appearance. The acting is clearly a case of A+ for the effort of enduring these many traumas, even if the journey to get to these aforementioned themes of violence and retribution become a little too convenient, shoehorned, and illogical. 

To its credit, these plot twists do extricate the movie from the usual boilerplate tropes of "psycho rednecks" wreaking havoc on the proverbial "city slickers." Once the action gets started, it doesn't let up, and the movie does strike a nice balance between the action and the development of David and Nadja's characters, their relationships, and how their actions may or may not have precipitated this descent into a life-or-death struggle in the Swedish hinterlands. It's just that the biggest plot twists ultimately feel unsatisfying and not fully explained. These "third act problems" prevent Red Dot from being a great movie, instead of a good one. As the movie plays with expectations, and on the audience's feelings as to who should be getting their comeuppance at the end, the story increasingly feels like the last 20 minutes in particular are forced into fitting into a theme of Old Testament justice, but the answers provided seem nihilistic. Also, it's not as if the main themes of the movie haven't been explored so many times before. 

 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Red Dot. How does it compare to other horror-thrillers?  Is it necessary? Why or why not?

  • How is the lead female character a strong leader? What other thrillers feature strong women?

  • What does the movie seem to be saying about revenge and retribution? What are your thoughts on this?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

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