The new ‘Found Footage’ series ‘The River’ from Oren Peli (the writer and director of Paranormal Activity) and the ever infamous Steven Speilberg (who seems to be really jumping into the TV game in a big way over the last year) is actually a surprisingly fun and creepy adventure down into the depths of nowhere. If you are a fan of the creepy found footage style used in Paranormal Activity so effectively i would highly reccomend at least giving the two hour premiere a shot. You might just be very pleasantly surprised with what you see.
After a famous TV adventure host and family man goes missing on one of his journeys, they dispatch a search team to find him and his missing crew. After six months with no sign they call off the search. Yet his wife, son and a television crew refuse to give up hope. After a personal beacon is activated in the middle of nowhere down a deserted river, they venture out to discover the truth of what happened, and reunite their family. The series is played off in the full ‘Found Footage’ vibe, even beginning with a note informing viewers that ‘the footage that follows is the documentation footage of the crew that went looking for them.’ As the team ventures into the river they immediately find the source beacon in a bloody cage underwater, but naturally with no sign of anybody. From there they go in search of the missing crew, starting with tracking down the boat that went missing along with them. After that, lets just say the fun begins.
The show pulls off the found footage vibe flawlessly, though that isnt too much of a surprise considering it was co-created by the writer and director of the first Paranormal Activity film. The pacing hardly ever slows. The show also picks up surprisingly quick from the get go, especially considering it is the pilot so it’s necessary to establish the story and the characters aswell. The cast is largely filled by unknowns, aside from Bruce Greenwood and a couple other familiar faces. The show seems to jump to various aspects of the weird and creepy, which leads the viewer to believe that there is far more than just one creepy thing going on out here. From spirits and symbols to a tree covered in dirty and creepy childrens’ dolls tied around the branches and base, aswell as people being grabbed by a hand reaching out from a one inch puddle of water. Without giving too much away i think its safe to say that based on the premiere, this show has real promise.
So in short, if you are a horror fan, especially of the found footage genre, i highly recommend checking out the two hour premiere. It aired Tuesday on ABC, though im sure the episode will be available for streaming on ABC’s site, aswell as available on most VOD platforms. The only thing that truly bothers me about this series, is the fact the mid season premiere, and eight episode launch season are eerily reminiscent of ‘Happy Town’ which also aired on ABC. I personally loved that show. I thought it was a brilliant and original series, and was absolutely heartbroken when it was cancelled after the eight episode first season. Hopefully though, considering the fame circling Paranormal Activity and the found footage genre in general, it will do well. Im sure having Steven Spielberg’s name involved cant hurt anything either.