There was a lot of mystery that surrounded this new TV-thriller. The commercials on ABC played into the usual gimmick for horror movies: show an audience in the theaters screaming and jumping out of their seats and say they were watching whatever you’re trying to market. Do you ever buy what they’re selling? No, but there was something that peaked my interest about The River. For the record, I’m a sucker for the Paranormal Activity films, so when they tied the name of Oren Peli to the project, my eyes widened. Also, casting a series with a bunch of unknowns play into how real the show can seem at times, along with the shaky-cam and the seemingly improvised dialogue.
The show revolves around the Cole family who had their own reality-television program, “The Undiscovered Country,” where Emmet and his family would travel through the wild-life and interact with a variety of creatures on the Amazon River. But mysteriously, Emmet Cole went missing and after months of searching he is presumed dead. But Emmet’s wife, Tess, never lost hope and when she received word that his emergency beacon was detected, she embarks on a journey with her son Lincoln along with a camera crew to find her husband.
Of course, their trip isn’t as smooth-sailing as they expected. After they recover the beacon to no extensive sign that Emmet is still alive, they follow the river to an unknown section that isn’t marked on the map. There, they find the Magus, Emmet’s boat and well, strange events follow.
I wouldn’t expect anything else from Oren Peli as there were many similar styles to The River compared to Paranormal Activity. Aside from the shaky-cam aspect and the supernatural occurrences, there was a scene with the speed-up time stamp from the still camera and also a possessed young girl. There is undoubtedly some Lost in the show as well, with individual motives and conflicts that we’re going to be presented with as the season progresses. And also, the jungle setting with weird creatures lurking around (such as that little smoke-monster-sounding demon thing).
My favorite part of the two-hour season premiere was the story they told about the little girl who drowned in the river. That really sent chills down my back, and is there anything creepier than a hundred baby dolls hanging from a tree? Also, the part about the necklace that Emmet gives to Lincoln was touching, but what does it mean that Lena has that mark on the back of her neck? You have to love those small cliff-hangers The River leaves you with.
Needless to say, I was hooked from the beginning of this show, but I wonder how much will be answered from its 8-episode season and whether or not this seems more like a mini-series than an actual first season. Can we assume that they’ll find Emmet by the end of the first season? Or maybe they’ll all get wiped out ending season one and then leading the way for the second season with a new group of voyagers trying to find answers that lie in this mysterious jungle. Whatever the case, even though I fear for the characters to keep going down the path to Emmet, I can’t wait to see what happens next.