The River S1 e1

The River is the latest attempt by mainstream network television to fill the hole left left by Lost. This time the attempt has a distinct horror twist. To help the ABC in their attempt, they've enlisted a couple pretty heavy hitters, Paranormal Activity 2 helmer Oren Peli and producing and directing god Steven Spielberg. What they've hatched is guaranteed to polarize not only the mainstream audiences but also die hard horrorphiles as well.

Bruce Greenwood greats us as Dr. Emmet Cole, a modern day Marlon Perkins. Cole travels around the world highlighting all "the magic" that nature holds. Eventually he introduces us to his family, his lovely wife Tess (Leslie Hope) and his son Lincoln, or Linc (Joe Anderson). They become as much a part of the show as Emmit is. But all is not well. Dr. Cole has gone missing in the Amazon jungle. He's presumed dead and everyone sort of moves on with their lives the best they can.

Fast forward six months when out of nowhere, Dr. Coles homing beacon mysteriously begins to emit a signal. His wife, spurned on by a reality show producer, Clark Quietly (Paul Blackthorne), confronts Linc drinking heavily at a bar and begs him to help her find her husband. Linc despises the idea but eventually relents when his mother appeals to his nostalgic side.

We enter the Amazon with Linc, Tess, Clark, a couple camera men, the ships captain and his daughter. Just before disembarking they are joined by Lena (Eloise Mumford), whose father was Dr. Coles camera man and was also lost in the jungle with when Dr. Cole when missing. The journey up the river towards the homing beacon is fairly uneventful. We meet the cameramen, the ships captain, Emilio Valenzuela and his daughter Jahel Valenzuela, who doesn't speak a word of English, despite the fact her father speaks it fluently.

Arriving at the beacons signal spot, they discover they are in the middle of a wide part of the river. Jumping in they soon discover the transmitter fastened to the side of an underwater diving cage. No answers or lost wildlife experts. So we are at a dead end...or are we? In what will become a rather annoying habit the series is developing early on, someone volunteers information that they've known all along, but they only choose to volunteer at the exact moment there are no other answers. Lena decides to let everyone in on the fact that she's tracked the tidal drift and knows where the ship is. Something that makes this particular mini mission pretty pointless.

So here we go on to the ship. But wait! Jahel, the captains daughter who only speaks Spanish, warns the crew that where they are headed isn't exactly Club Med. Of course no one listens, the stupid girl doesn't even speak English. The ship has certainly seen better days, but you would look pretty rough too if you'd been beached for six months. Creepy noises emanate from the ship. Everyone assumes it's Dr. Cole, but you know what they say about assumptions. Jahel tries to remind them, but she doesn't speak English. They find the "panic room." It's been welded shut from the outside. No one questions why they just assume it must be open - and quickly!

They saw the door open. It takes exactly the same amount of time it takes to explore the ship. Still, no one questions why the door is welded shut. Of course it's not Emmet or Lana's father but some invisible spirit of a dead crew member who gets stronger with the taste of human blood. The spirit reeks its vengeance thought the ship, ridding the cast of any extra weight. Tess decides to communicate with the spirit as its flying around killing things. She asks it to give her a sign if Emmit is still alive. The ever accommodating spirit complies. Tearing her arm twice, but yet leaving her alive. I guess all it wanted was for someone to pay attention to it.

Shot mostly on the reality shows "shaky cams." It does get difficult to follow all the action once everything really picks up. The found footage sub-genre divides audiences as much as remakes or torture porn, so this show already has that going against it. Peli proved with Paranormal Activity that he can provide scares with subtlety. Unfortunately, at least in this episode, most of the scares are of the easily telegraphed jump variety. The series has possibilities, but the coincidental predictability needs to stop. Here's hoping the show becomes more American Horror Story and less Fear Itself.

No comments:

Post a Comment