Red Rose Season 1 Review – Dated techno-horror has some charms

February 18, 2023
Jonathon Wilson 0
Netflix, Streaming Service, TV, TV Reviews
View all


The messaging is a bit dated at this point, but Red Rose delivers so-so British horror anchored by solid performances from charismatic young actors.

This review of the Netflix series Red Rose Season 1 does not contain spoilers.

Red Rose, a 2022 BBC horror series that is now a 2023 Netflix original, is at once both distinctly contemporary and behind the times. It’s a cautionary technology-is-evil tale that transfers the terror to our phones since that’s where most of us live now, but it’s making points that have been more stylishly hammered home in film and TV over the last few years, from Unfriended on the big screen to various episodes of Black Mirror on the small one. Red Rose has its charms, including a good sense of teenage anxieties and a potent mystery, but its love of tech can also leave its humanity by the wayside.

Red Rose Season 1 review and plot summary

This is a product of Michael and Paul Clarkson, aka the Clarkson Twins, Bolton brothers who set the action in their hometown, which is all the better to emphasize a dreary sense of social exclusion since nothing good ever really happens there anyway. And the app-based menace is relatable for any parent of teenagers who can’t tilt their heads away from their devices. Despite its familiarity, the premise still has some topical power.

And Red Rose is good at justifying the allure of its titular app. It’s an easy sell for snarky GCSE student Rochelle (Isis Hainsworth), who is still grieving her mother’s suicide and is gripped by poverty and a lack of opportunities. First come material goods, then social status. But then comes risky social no-nos and blackmail, sticking Roch in the midst of a tryst between her friends Wren (Amelia Clarkson) and Noah (Harry Redding). Quickly the app runs the risk of ruining the lives of everyone involved.

There’s nothing unusual about this setup, really, or indeed any of the themes, but the Clarkson Twins do find interesting ways to open the concept up and raise the stakes, and as mentioned above, the anti-internet messaging is probably more relevant than ever. Weirdly enough, though, there’s still a feeling of the whole thing being dated, and the drama amounting to something ultimately a bit nebulous and disappointing.

Is Red Rose good?

The characters are strong, though, and the young actors bring them to life well. They’re not as beholden to the usual genre archetypes as you might expect and there’s an authentic Englishness to it all – like Lockwood & Co. before it – that I’m partial to. The script yields some genuine surprises here and there and that’s enough to keep you going even as the whole thing builds to an unsatisfying ending. If you can overlook the slightly dated overall aesthetic, feel, and central message, and horror that wavers in and out of focus, there’s a pretty solid story of grief, social navigation, and the allure of exploitative technology here if you’re looking for it.

What did you think of Red Rose Season 1? Comment below.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix.

Additional reading:

Find where to watch this and more with our Discovery Tool

Explore Now
View all

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.