February 8, 2012

ABC'S The River With/Without A Paddle

I'm a sucker for the "Paranormal Activity" movies. Saw the third one in the theater at midnight with my buddy, it was straight up bananas, both the movie and the fact that some guy had a full blown mega-seizure two rows down from us, but nevertheless, movies are dope. When I heard that series creator Oren Peli was going to have a TV show on ABC, I was pumped. Last night, that show, titled "The River" premiered on ABC. And while it didn't come close to satisfying my "Lost" longings, I found the show to be extremely enjoyable.

The show is technically "found footage," which is all the rage now in Hollywood. It focuses on a TV crew searching for a lost nature documentarian Dr. Emmet Cole (played in flashback by the groovy Bruce Greenwood) deep in the wilds of the Amazon. Along for the journey into the heart of darkness are Emmet's wife and daughter, a somewhat sleazy producer and camera man, the superstitious ship supervisor and his easily possessed daughter, a childhood sweetheart, and of course an elite special forces dude with an arsenal of badass weaponry. It doesn't take long for the posse to discover that they are in way over their heads in for seriously intense experience in the Amazon.

First things first, I was surprised how scary the show was. And while I know that shit is always getting super nuts on "American Horror Story" I was surprised how terrifying the show was, especially for Network television. How scary we talking here? Try porcelain faced dolls hanging from trees and coming alive, monkeys with children's faces, and possessed girls speaking in tongues while having seizures. Yeah Brah!  Maybe I'm just soft, but I found it to be pretty intense.

Besides the scares though, there is kind of a cool "meta" elements of watching a TV show about the production of a TV show. I also find it ironic that the sleaziest character on the show is the producer, but he's the entry point for the audience. For example, it's preposterous that there would be cameras everywhere to capture both the supernatural shenanigans and the little personal moments between characters, but if he's not there showing us the audience what we wanna see, than their is no real show. Yet every time things are going haywire, he's the guy who you wanna see get torn to pieces by the river demons. Is that a commentary on media ethics or am I just diving wayyyy under the surface?

The show isn't close to being as good as "Lost," yet I'm not gonna lie, I was pretty engaged for the entire two hour premiere, and that's a rarity for network TV. Usually if it's not on Showtime, AMC, USA, or HBO, I'm not watching. It's fun watching this type of pulpy horror stuff, and I'm pretty sure it will be for you as well, even if you're not a "Paranormal Activity" junkie like me.

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