In this mid-2022, can we imagine our lives without technology, for even a split second? Although they may have been designed by humans, our lives are essentially “compiled and run” by these smart technologies and the World Wide Web. “Red Rose,” a BBC Three recent television series, promises a perfect blend of sci-fi and horror in a teenage drama that focuses on this ever-evolving technology and its deplorable utilization in our society. Created by Michael and Paul Clarkson, this eight-episode series will surely make you think twice about the usage of your handy smartphones, laptops, and other gadgets with their prominent and salient features in social realism. The story centers on a group of adolescents and a smartphone application named “Red Rose” that not only alters their lives but also ends with the ultimatum of death. But how can a single mobile application create such turbulence in these youngsters’ lives? Hold tight; we are about to sign in.
What Is ‘Red Rose’? How Does Roch Fall Into Its Trap?
The narrative starts in Manchester. Alyssa (Robyn Cara), a teenage girl, is depicted as being deadly afraid within her own home. She became terribly frightened by the mysterious, horrific occurrences in her home and leaped to her death. The scene changes to Bolton, with a group of teenagers who have just finished their final examinations at secondary school and are super excited to spend their summer. Rochelle, aka Roch (Isis Hainsworth), is the heartthrob of the bunch. Her mother’s untimely demise has made her an adult before due time. She takes care of her twin sisters and helps her father, Vinny to make ends meet. She portrays a robust, outspoken, and sarcastic demeanor while masking vulnerabilities and melancholy. Roch’s best friend Wren (Amelia Clarkson) is about to start a romance with her fellow classmate Noah (Harry Redding). Wren has survived a broken family and lives with her mother, Rachel (Natalie Gavin) but discreetly meets her adored father, Rick (Adam Nagaitis). Ashley’s (Natalie Blair’s), aka Ash’s obsession, is Lady Diana, and she has always longed to explore Paris. She is constantly leg-pulled by Tazaq, nicknamed Taz (Ali Khan), a hare-lipped grammar nazi who subsequently develops feelings for her.
Ant (Ellis Howard), also known as Antony, is frustrated with his alcoholic mother and is afraid to come out as homosexual. The plot picks up after Roch downloads the “Red Rose” software from a web link that appears to be a simulation game but is actually a deadly cyber monster. Roch senses that she is strangely unwanted in Wren’s new relationship. She uses this app to divert herself and is caught in the bait. She is frequently questioned by the app about her needs. She initially dismissed this entity, but in the end, she starts to obey its dictates. This unknown app, much like the widely publicized game ‘Blue Whale,’ largely exploits her upsetting circumstances to begin its malevolent play. Roch and her family are in dire straits financially. They are out of electricity because the prepaid electricity meter is not topped up. However, like most teenagers she shares the same desire for gorgeous party attire and shoes. She also wishes to present her best self online. She is instructed to write her three desires on the mirror and chant a creepy hymn. She adheres to it and pursues respect, success, and fortune. They suddenly have electricity again, and their meter has been topped off. Later, her fairy godmother, “Red Rose”, surprises her with a new outfit and a pair of shoes. But her behaviour around Wren has altered. Wren ponders whether Roch’s rage is directed at her relationship or something else. In the meantime, Roch is being followed by the cryptic app. It has the ability to access anything, crack her passwords, and turn anything on or off. When Roch points her smartphone camera at an empty space in the forest, the software displays a picture of someone that looks like her deceased mother. The upset girl learns that everyone is speculating about a potential conflict between her and Wren. Roch meets Wren and tries to sort it out, but things do not go well. She tells Wren’s mother about Wren’s covert rendezvous with Rick, her father. Rachel is always furious about her ex-husband Rick, who was accused of manslaughter. Rachel makes an effort to restrain herself since she does not want her only child to end up looking like her father. She wants her daughter to apologize to Roch because she is aware of what she and Vinny, are going through in the wake of the awful death of her mother, Gloria.
However, manipulation can also take a different route. While none of them sent any texts to anyone, “Red Rose” cheated on both of their best friends by sending a message to break up the argument. Both Wren and Roch believe their argument is finally coming to an end. But this is just the beginning. “Red Rose” manipulates Wren in the worst way imaginable. This app commands Roch to kiss Wren’s lover, Noah, in front of Wren, and gives Roch panic about return of her dead mother. Roch is becoming frightened but lacks the will to discontinue using the program. By that point, her social media accounts had also been compromised, and her kissing pictures were visible to the world. When she walks into Antony, she realizes that neither he nor her friends had ever read any of her texts. Roch texted Wren to apologize, but she didn’t receive it either. Realizing the likely cause, Roch writes her a letter explaining the app’s functions and leaves it at her house. When Roch tries to show the app to Wren, it becomes invisible, and Wren doesn’t believe any of her claims. Only Roch is aware of how dangerous the application is. Even at a church, she tries to perform an exorcism, but she is unable to drive the demons away.
After Roch’s Death, Her Friends Are the New Targets
Roch could not be saved. Her body was discovered in the bathtub. Though her friends connected all the dots and went to get her that day, it was already too late. For not comprehending Roch’s cries for aid, Wren feels the greatest sense of guilt. She thinks Roch could never kill herself since it would be murder. Wren unexpectedly receives a text from her dead best friend, Roch. It is the same download link for “Red Rose”. To find out what had happened to her best buddy, Wren makes the decision to enter the situation. Strange things begin, just as they did with Roch. Additionally, posts are uploaded to Wren’s social media accounts. In Roch’s case, her mother returned via the app, but Wren overheard Roch talking to her. Wren feels upset for the vicious bullies of the other kids, who believe Wren was the reason Roch committed himself. Although Noah begs the Jenna sisters not to gossip about her, Wren and the others end up fighting. Everyone believes Wren is posting odd things and exploiting Roch’s death to increase her likes. Wren punches the faces of those who accuse her all the time. She mistakenly hits Noah.
Everyone creates offensive memes comparing her to her criminal father, which saddens Wren. She gets an anonymous message telling her to come to Manchester if she wants to “live.” In front of her friends, she has a conversation with the enigmatic Roch in the “Red Rose” before leaving for Manchester. The unsettling app that tells Wren not to turn off her phone gives her the impression that she is being followed, even on the train. Jaya (Ashna Rabheru), a fellow classmate and code-enthusiast who had overheard their talk in the café, is the sender of this enigmatic message. But before they can go with Jaya, the “Red Rose” tricks them with the visuals of Roch, who asks them to follow in the tunnel where Wren is about to get run over by a train. They come to Jaya’s coding place, where she elaborates her about Jaycob Taylor (Charlie Hiscock), who was a fantastic coder and had committed suicide, due to something related to “Red Rose”. Jaya scrutinizes everything on Wren’s phone and discovers that the app “Red Rose” has complete control over it. The software has the ability to observe, record, make calls, send SMS, post to social media, and even display its own graphics. Naturally, they are constantly being monitored. When the people visit Jacob Taylor’s house, they discover that his computers have already been destroyed. Jaya finds a diary in which the “Red Rose” app’s evolving codes are written. Wren discovers a drawing of a woman she recognizes as Alyssa, who also posted odd things like Roch and had passed away. However, the malicious forces responsible for the app are at work. Rick visits Wren’s ex-wife Rachel after receiving messages from Wren. The argument turns into a violent confrontation between Rick and Simon, Rachel’s new lover. Rachel holds Wren entirely responsible for all this because she brought her father back into their life. Additionally, the dead Jacob Taylor calls Jaya and threatens to kill Wren.
The other four members of the group get to know that their phones are also infected by this app. They plan to go without a phone and an internet connection until Jaya cracks the code and determines how it works. Meanwhile, Rachel approaches Simon to apologize, but he appears quite frightened and uneasy. The folks go to the supermarket, and Wren is stressed from everything online. The mall’s CCTV, smartphones in onlookers’ hands, and the shifting position of the cab driver’s route all give her the weird sense that they are being followed. They run across Simon, who inquires about Wren’s location. When Taz posts a party invitation on social media at midnight, the entire school shows up at his house to party. They purposefully destroy every expensive item in Taz’s home and cause chaos in the name of celebration. The “Red Rose” had set everything up. Wren departs from the chaos and runs into Simon. In the meantime, Rachel and Rick come to look for their daughter. Simon deceives her and attempts to kill her, but kills himself in the process. The death of Simon, according to the authorities, marks the conclusion of this horrible game. But at the conclusion of this episode, a technological geek informs us that the Simon game is over. Is another game still available? Is the “Red Rose” all finished? Or perhaps it’s just the calm before the storm?
‘Red Rose’ Ending, Explained: Did Wren Find The Gardener? Did Jacob Taylor Develop This App For The Destruction?
Now, everything appears to be quiet. Taz and Ash have begun to nurture a romance. Their school results are released. Their grades have made their parents incredibly happy. But Wren is unable to get over the loss of her companion. Vinny, the poor father, had no idea what fears ended his daughter’s life but did not affect her excellent score. In the meantime, Mrs. Taylor gives Antony a tablet of her son Jacob’s when he pays a visit to Jacob’s home. There he discovers the “Red Rose” app and various diary vlogs of Jacob that detail his daily life. When Antony discusses this with Jaya, he learns that “Red Rose” is not only an application but also a dark website that is still very much active. Jaya looks for the site’s password, but Antony prohibits her from telling anyone—especially Wren—about her discovery. Jaya starts trial and error to find the password. As she watches Jacob’s vlogs, she discovers that a certain girl didn’t reciprocate his love. Things are pretty good between Wren’s parents. They hang out together and want to forget their previous quarrels. And the children were ready for their party. Antony finally comes out as gay. Jaya is included in their group. While at the party, Jaya reveals to Wren about the “Red Rose” website, but Wren asks her to quit her idea. Jaya finally cracks the password, goes home, and logs in to the site. The catastrophe finally hit the town. They are basically some evil programmers who have a tremendous ability to hack every digital gadget, frighten people by altering their devices, and love to see them tortured. They basically blackmailed Simon and assigned him to kill Wren. It’s a wild pleasure for those who have developed this app and website to pick vulnerable people as their targets. Someone named ‘The Gardener’ is now the mastermind of this evil practice. Wren finally reaches out to the Gardener, who had captured her father. She killed that evil after a brief fight. Upon Noah’s urge, Jaya deletes the website which causes the destruction of all the data on the website and the app store to date. Rick takes the blame for killing the man and surrenders to the police. In essence, they are sadistic programmers who have the capability to hack any digital device, frighten people by manipulating their electronics, and enjoy seeing people suffer. They essentially used Simon as a pawn and ordered him to murder Wren. Making vulnerable people their targets through these apps and websites gives the developers great joy. The person behind this wicked activity is now known only as ‘The Gardener’, who had kidnapped her father, is finally reached by Wren. She slays the evil after a brief fight. It is found that Roch was murdered. When Jaya deletes the website at Noah’s request, all the data that the website and the app had previously kept is lost. Rick takes the blame for killing the man and hands himself to the authorities.
Red Rose is the brainchild of Jacob Taylor, a prodigy programmer from Manchester. He loved Alyssa, his classmate, whom we see at the very beginning of the first episode. He developed this application to carry on an anonymous chat with Alyssa. His assisting coders asked him to probe her mind and get all the data he needed to know about her. Alyssa was thus Red Rose’s very first unfortunate victim. Jacob sent her the download link for the app and started talking with her through it. But his coder pals became restless. They insisted him to ask her out. Jacob wanted to go slow with his love, but the immense bullying and mockery made him do something evil. He hacked access to every digital gadget in her home, even her laptop and mobile phone, with his extraordinary coding skills. He proposed to her, but she declined. Jacob was vulnerable. In the meantime, one of the anonymous coders, named ‘The Gardener’, asked him to give him admin access to this game so that he could improvise some features and help Jacob to get Alyssa back. Jacob did not think twice when it came to Alyssa, and he made the Gardener admin. Later, he was shocked to discover that the unidentified developers were using his software to torment Alyssa by controlling all her home’s technology. All of this occurred as a result of The Gardener’s exploitation of his administrative position and turning it into a violent game. Jacob rushed to help her but saw someone throwing Alyssa from a height. ‘Red Rose’ was created by Jacob with the best of intentions, but it ended up killing Alyssa. He committed suicide because of his intense guilt. But The Gardener becomes the mastermind of this game and keeps picking the most vulnerable people to torture, extort, and kill. Jaya was able to delete the root of this dark website and application, but she bumped into a woman who claimed herself as The Gardener, and thus a hint for a sequel is depicted. In the final scene, we see that The Red Rose App has returned to Tokyo with a fresh appearance and is prepared for destruction. It is evident that today, power lies in the data. The individual with the maximum data is regarded as the most powerful. Data security is also incredibly tough in today’s world due to the extensive data access to everything. We can quickly access anything on the internet, share details of our everyday lives on social media, click on numerous links, and do all of this without giving thought to the access we are granting to our reliable devices. Therefore, the threat of data theft grows as data volume increases. The filmmaker strives to warn us about these lurking dangers. The good and the evil may both easily access us because of this modern technology. The real horror.
Final Words: A Brilliant Sci-Fi, An Average Presentation
‘Red Rose’ is an out-of-the-box experiment that tries to imply the real horror of today’s society. In the beginning, the stereotypical spooky set-up almost makes us believe in a haunted mobile app, but the more the story progresses, we are introduced to the real monster, the dark web. Though the concept of science fiction is sophisticatedly improvised in the whole series, the screenplay is not very constructive, the characters are chaotic, and the thrill is haphazard. The series appears to be unsure of what it aims to be and gets murky in an effort to satisfy every aspect of the thriller and mystery genre. Overall, despite being a little stretchy, ‘Red Rose’ talks about the true struggle of mental agony, fear of missing out, poverty, spirit calling, shattered friendships and families, and loss of life. So, don’t hesitate to give this piece a watch, whether you are a techie or not.
“Red Rose” is a 2022 Drama Thriller series streaming on iPlayer with subtitles.