“The River”

Wanna know what I really thought of ABC’s new ‘paranormal thriller’????

Two words ought to cover it:

It was a mess. A huge, sordid, lopsided mess.

From nonsensical crap like the daughter of the mechanic who didn’t speak a lick of the King’s, yet she swallows a dragonfly and hiccups once, then lo and behold,she starts to channel the voice of Emmet, the missing adventure show host. Then the rescue team stumbles upon a tree in the rain forest that has nothing but old weathered dolls and toys hanging from it. A spirit tree, I believe it was called. And one of the toys was a stuffed bear that Lincoln, Emmet’s son who had joined the rescue mission along the Amazon, used to play with as a boy. He’s spent time there with his father while filming his TV show.

The premise is weak and filtered for effect that just never quite seems to make it to any point of interest.   The first 30 minutes or so that I watch, I kept waiting, hoping it would settle down, get less frenetic.    But alas,  I was sorely disappointed.

The rescue team which includes Emmets wife and son, a few camerman with accents, Emmet’s show producer, the mechanic, his daughter and the daughter of a camerman who’s also missing.  There’s also a crazy, shoot happy, gun-toting head of security who must be ex-Mossad.    Anyway, they high tail it down to the Amazon after learning that Emmet’s emergency beacon started pinging after not making a peep since his disappearance six months earlier.  It leads the team to Emmet’s boat, “The Magus” (which was the name of a member of the Zoroastrian priestly caste of the Medes and Persians) which is located in an  obscure part of the river–not even on any maps and it’s listing to one side.    It’s also very dirty, has vines growing all over it, not to mention blood stained walls that no one in the rescue party seems to notice and a room that’s welded shut. They think Emmet is on the other side of the door, so they use a blow torch to open it and when they do, they’re struck by a horrible odor and a rush a wind (a ghost called something Seco…seco means dry. I couldn’t make out the Spanish word mentioned before it) which knocks over the daughter of Emmet’s cameraman.  It cuts her leg and in doing so, redevelops its bloodlust after months under that blanket and the fun begins.

They all hold their noses, enter the room and find a makeshift altar and and  some kind of large, engorged eggplant hiding under a blanket.  Apparently, the indigenous non English speaking daughter of the  English speaking ship mechanic calls it another creature myth monster thing.    By the way, she eventually burps up the dragonfly that allows her to channel and all is well again.

What a pantload. 

Now, let’s talk shop here:  what made no sense to me is how the got the boat in ship shape so quickly.   That engine must have one helluva battery.   It had been sitting there, dirty, bloody, listing, hadn’t been touched and the motors haven’t been cranked on in six monthsm,  yet with a screw driver and a couple of spritzes of Windex apparently, the boat is cleaned up, fully operational, including the on-board editing bay, and everyone cruise down the Amazon in search of an ending to this particular episode.   

If they found one, I wouldn’t know it. I fell in and out of consciousness over the next hour and a half of this nonsense, but the parts which I watched had ALL the palatability of orangutan testicles, sautéed with sweaty navel lint and served in a piquant orange sauce.

There was no character development. There was no ‘wow factor’, nothing to make me scratch my head and ponder pedantically about plotlines. The paranormal stuff was rapid fire and in your face and too much to digest all at once. I don’t know. Mayne I’ve lost my childhood love of being scared. This didn’t scare me. “The River” annoyed me. Five years later, I’d be screaming at my TV, “And I’d enjoy it too if it weren’t for you meddling kids. Now, GET OFF MY LAWN!!!”

I want my horror and terror to be more subtle…a smidge more intellectual with some realism, please.  Give me  Serling with a hint of Hitchcock…DePalma, even.

Unless “The River” can relax and offer me legit  thrills that don’t come at me like at me like a gacked out Howitzer, it might stand a chance. S o, I’ll make every effort to write off every yawn inducing mistake as the learning curve;  part of its Freshman effort and I’ll watch it next week. But it just has that one chance–one last chance–to convince me; to win me over next Tuesday night.


“American Horror Story”, it ain’t. Then again, in my opinion, AHS started out with a booming tenor bang, then it ended like a whimper from a member of Castroti.


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