Red Rose – Season 1 Episode 1 “It’s Grim Up North” Recap & Review

It’s Grim Up North

We begin episode 1 of Red Rose in Manchester, UK. While everyone is taken by the Christmas spirit, Alyssa walks home alone. She has a hoodie on and separates from the crowd without too much excitement.

Her mother cannot pick her up from school that day and Alyssa comes to a lonely house. As soon as she enters the premises, strange stuff begins to happen. The lights go out, music starts playing on its own, and the most bizarre of them all: she sees the television opens by itself and she can see an apparition in the screen standing behind her. All of these events crescendo to the finale when her mother comes home. But it is too late and Alyssa jumps off the roof to her death, something read glowing in her phone lying beside her.

Six months have passed since her suicide but no one in Bolton, where we focus next, is bothered about it. The school is finally coming to a close for the group graduating high school and Rochelle is excited. Along with Ashley, Wren, Antony, and Noah, Roche goes to the moor overlooking the cliffs where the teens celebrate their “liberation”. Taz joins their bandwagon as well as Wren informs Roche about Becky Fox’s party. She has not been invited and Roche confronts Becky about it. Becky reluctantly accepts but asks for an entry fee.

Wren and Noah kiss in the phonebooth as Roche separates from the celebrating crowd to lie in the meadow grass alone. She opens the link Becky apparently sent to an app called Red Rose. “Welcome to the new You”, reads the message on the screen. Back home, we see Roche’s family, which includes her single father and his kids. They are twins, Nora and Clare. The lights go out and Roche is alone with her phone. The Red Rose app sends a prompt to Roche, asking her to make three wishes by writing them with lipstick on the mirror. “Wealth, Respect, Power, Bitches”, is what Roche ends up writing.

She says the message on the phone thrice; “red rose, red rose, will these things out my head”. Just after she finishes, the light comes back magically. It seems she has given her control to the app, which cuts Wren’s phone by itself the next moment. It also displays the message, “I’ll take care of you” on the screen.  Her behaviour changes overnight. She even receives an expensive dress and a pair of shoes for the party. Wren has been seeing Rick again in the graveyard and Roche tells this piece of news to her mother.

Roche’s mother, Gloria, died a long time ago and Roche is now seeing her apparition in the garden, like Alyssa did. Wren’s mother reprimands her sir seeing Rick and asks her to send a message to Roche apologizing for what she said. In Roche’s phone, the apology message is translated to something else entirely that draws a wedge between the two. Wren and Roche might make up at Becky’s party. They indicate it through texts.

Before the party, Roche fights with Wren and the group when she shows off her shoes. It is not a major one but a slight indication that she is getting socially isolated. At the party, Roche discovers that Becky did not send her the Red Rose link. At the party, it prompts her to kiss Noah but she declines. And then the music goes off and Roche sees a video of herself going in line to pick up food.

It gives a prompt again to kiss Noah and asks her not to ignore them again. She does it and Wren sees it on the big screen. Students also take it on camera. Everyone has seen her kiss Noah and they all gasp in astonishment. Roche gets another alert from the app that shows her a picture of the twins and Gloria’s apparition saying she will look over them.

The Episode Review

It must be said that the opener for Red Rose was less than exciting. It comes across as a bit lacklustre owing to the visual creative choices. The bleak background, dimly lit rooms, and the rooted dialogue put some distance between it and the viewer. While one can appreciate the fact that it belongs to the horror genre, these characterizations are a bit jarring.

We are just getting started with the Red Rose’s menace and it remains to be seen how the narrative proceeds from here. Rochelle’s friends must support her more than anything else, failing which, she will be too isolated to be preyed upon.

Perhaps more time can be afforded to the creators to carve out their own perception of the literary source. Until then, we will wait before we commit to a judgment.

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