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The River | The Clapper Bored

The River

Words by Lewis Fox

Remember when “Found Footage” was a genuinely interesting notion? It’s origins date back to 1980, though it really sent tongues wagging in the 90′s with the excellent Blair Witch Project, the way the film makers utilised the increasingly important internet to advertise the film was a masterclass in foresight. But that was a long time ago, and frankly, with little inovation the “found footage” genre has become just another Rom-Com. A soulless money making machine where more is spent on the trailer than the actual film. It’s bums on seats and leave your brain in the foyer nonsense.

With interest surely waining in the multiplexes, the genre has dipped it’s toe into the small screen pond with The River, an 8 episode series from the writer of, you guessed it! Paranormal Activity. Unfortunately if the pilot is anything to go by, I suggest this “river” will be dry by the summer months.

The story of a legendary TV environmentalist Emmet Cole (imagine a more laid back Steve Irwin) and his family who become famous for their extraordinary TV show, documenting the strange creatures of the Amazon. With his children growing up and his wife back home Emmet takes a solo mission down the Amazon River, only to turn up missing.  We join the story as his wife, and extremely reluctant son take up the daunting mission of finding Cole alive, despite exhaustive searches.

The first thing to say is the idea of the documentary crew filming everything is extremely clunky, especially in the early scenes. In a South American bar we see Cole’s wife tries to persuade her son to take the trip, they make fleeting mention of the Camera crew but it’s patently silly. It’s also a rushed exercise, within 20 minutes we’re on The River and we’ve found Cole’s old boat.  I don’t like waiting around but a bit of character development may have been nice, it proves what the characters are saying is playing second fiddle to crash bang wallop we see later.

By the time the “fun” kicks in it’s immediately reminiscent of LOST.  ”What the hell was that?” is the familiar mantra as bits of boat fly around in the dark, propelled by god knows what and for a reason no one seems to know. It’s simply too much of a leap of faith to care about people we’ve met 10 minutes and know absolutely nothing about.

Ultimately the show may pick up, and I hope it does. But if this is anything to go by I would suggest the Found Footage genre remains where it was born. The cinema screen.

Title: The River
Network: ABC
Starring: Bruce Greenwood, Joe Anderson, Leslie Hope, Elioise Mumford, Paul Blackthorne
UK Air Date: TBC

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