Sunday, March 11, 2012

ABC's The River

Anybody watch Oren Peli's The River on ABC? I initially started watching it out of curiosity. I was expecting a TV mockumentary (considering Oren Peli's Paranormal Activity as a template) that will easily overstay its welcome, but it proved to be so much more. Some people are comparing it to Lost, but I have never watched a single Lost episode (though I've read several episode summaries) so I can't honestly make a decent comparison. But still...The River. It's awesome.

The River uses the mockumentary/found lost footage style popularized by the Blair Witch project (used to good effect by Oren Peli's Paranormal Activity series), and follows the story of two teams of documentary crews: First is the crew of the Magus, captained by Dr. Emmet Cole (played by Bruce Greenwood), who seems to be based on various TV personality/famous explorer archtypes. Emmet's show runs on the theme of "finding magic" in nature, and his last trip has his entire crew venturing deep into the uncharted Amazon basin. The entire crew never returned.

The second set of documentary crew is led by Emmet's son Lincoln (played by Joe Anderson) and his estranged wife Tess (Leslie Hope), who assemble a crew in order to search for the missing Emmet after his emergency beacon suddenly goes off, six months after The Magus went missing. The new crew is a ragtag mix of old friends and new acquaintances, which includes the missing cameraman's daughter, Lena Landry (Eloise Mumford), Dr. Cole's ex-producer, Clark (Paul Blackthorne), Magus mechanic Emilio Valenzuela (Daniel Zacapa), and private security bodyguard Captain Kurt Brynildson (Thomas Kretschmann).

If you think Paranormal Activity set in the jungle will get old very fast, you don't have to worry. The River doesn't rely solely on fake authenticity and shakey cam effects to bring on the scares. In fact, it would help if you disassociate the series from said clich├ęs, and treat it like you would any horror series with a "monster of the week" vibe. It's only up to episode 6 (out of the first season's planned 8 episodes) but the crew has already gone face to face with ancient curses, bloodthirsty ghosts, forest guardians who steal people's eyes, tribes who believe that they are descended from angels, a demon who likes to skin its victims alive, and even an actual ghost ship.

The River still has 2 episodes to go (episode 7 on March 13, 2012 and the season finale on March 20, 2012) so you can still do some catching up. Or you can hold off until the DVD realease of the first season on May 22, 2012.

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