‘Red Rose’ is a British horror drama series released internationally on Netflix. It is created by Michael and Paul Clarkson, known for their work on ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor.’ It revolves around Wren Davies (Amelia Clarkson) and her friends, whose lives are turned upside down after being introduced to a sinister app called “Red Rose,” which forces them to play a twisted game. As the teenagers try to uncover their friend’s mysterious death, they confront their worst insecurities.
If you found the show’s social commentary about technology, the internet, and social media relevant, you must wonder if real events inspire the story. We also got curious about the same and did some investigation of our own. Here is everything we learned about the inspiration behind ‘Red Rose.’
Is Netflix’s Red Rose a True Story?
No, ‘Red Rose’ is not based on a true story. The series is based on an original concept from creators and writers Michael and Paul Clarkson. As a result, viewers can rest easy knowing that no real-life murderous mobile app is threatening teenagers’ lives. However, the Clarkson twins did draw from real experiences while developing the show. ‘Red Rose’ follows a group of teenagers from Bolton, Greater Manchester, the hometown of the Clarksons.
In an interview with The Guardian, Paul Clarkson revealed that he and his brother always wanted to tell a story set in their hometown. “We always knew we wanted to tell a story in our hometown. We were asked: What concepts do you have? And Michael went: Something like Scream or The Ring, but set in Bolton,” Paul told the publication. In the same interview, Michael echoed his brother’s sentiments and revealed that the duo was a horror genre fan.
During their childhood, the brothers would watch horror movies and imagine themselves dealing with conflicts from the narrative, leading to the germination of the idea of ‘Red Rose.’ The series explores the pitfalls of modern technology through teenagers’ reliance on smartphones and social media. The titular app that gives the characters dangerous tasks resembles the Blue Whale Challenge phenomenon from 2016 that reportedly caused the death of several teenagers in real life.
However, the Clarksons explained that the film’s primary theme is communication, especially in the modern era of smartphones. “The simpler it is, the scarier it is. Communication can easily be misleading – it’s become endemic in society, which has led to a lot of devastating consequences, “Paul said in an interview with Dazed Digital. “So we said, let’s embrace the phones, let’s lean into this and try to use [them] to their full potential,” he added.
Furthermore, the creators spoke with several teenagers and attended focus groups to understand how the new generation interacts with technology. Through these interactions, they found ways to give the narrative a sense of heightened reality. The absent parents also thematically connect the characters together, and the Clarksons stated that this aspect of the show is inspired by their relationship with their mother. Similarly, the show also explores the themes of friendship, poverty, etc. The Clarksons have also cited shows such as ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Derry Girls‘ as influences on their creations of ‘Red Rose.’
All things said, ‘Red Rose’ is not based on a true story. The series tells a fiction story rooted in the horror genre’s tropes. However, the Clarksons draw from their personal experiences and understanding of the show’s setting to add a sense of terror to the narrative. Moreover, the show makes some poignant social commentary about the state of social media, communication, and technology in the modern age. It tackles some universally resonant themes adding a semblance of reality to the narrative.
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