When "The River" was announced, I was cautiously optimistic. As I've written in the past, I personally love found footage/first person horror, so I was intrigued by the idea of a weekly found footage horror show. I was cautiously optimistic however, as I could certainly see the show having difficulties keeping the found footage formula fresh week after week. Now that the first two episodes have aired, I think it's safe to say that "The River" is doing it wrong.
Everyone has seen the video for "Thriller". Rightfully so, too, it's a great song and the video was truly revolutionary for it's time. However, it crowds out dozens of other music videos that have drawn heavily from horror films for their inspiration.
It was 1997 and I was a wee lad of only 11 years old. I had spent the day hanging out with my “cool” Uncle, and we had just gotten back from a late night (well, late night for an 11 year old) showing of “Starship Troopers”.
When done right, first person films can be incredibly effective. By limiting the scope of the film to the perspective of one individual with a camera, these films can be incredibly tense and are generally the only type of horror film that can legitimately give me the creeps anymore.
Experiment time horror fans! Find someone who doesn’t like horror films. Be it your squeamish girlfriend, art-house dwelling hipster co-worker or your mother who doesn’t understand why you’re always watching “that garbage”, and ask them to describe “Friday the 13th”. Chances are they’ll talk about how gory the film is, mention all the horny teenagers and nudity, and talk about Jason and his hockey mask and machete. Maybe they’ll also mention Kevin Bacon because, come on, it’s Kevin Bacon. Problem is, that’s not really “Friday the 13th”.
I’ve watched enough film adaptations of HP Lovecraft’s work to know not to expect much from them. Sure, every now and then something like “Re-Animator” or “The Dunwich Horror” comes along that manages to be a solid, watchable movie, but far more often than not Lovecraft adaptations are painful messes. I’ve walked past the DVD box for “From Beyond” dozens of times in my life and have always passed on it for the same reasons I pass on so many Lovecraft adaptations.