'The River' Looks Like Another Cheap Ripoff of 'Blair Witch Project' (VIDEO)

If you're a fan of paranormal/horror documentary-style footage that features mysterious goings-ons viewed through the wobbly lens of a hand-held camera, great news! Tonight's premiere episode of The River promises to offer exactly that, as evidenced by the trailer which includes a lot of hysterical screaming, flailing cameras, and nerve-wracking shouts of "IT'S OUT THERE!"

There seem to be some decent reasons to check out the show: the co-creator is Oren Peli, who was the writer-director of the wildly popular Paranormal Activity, and Steven Spielberg is the executive producer. The trailer is legitimately creepy in parts, and the plot doesn't sound half bad.

The only problem? We've seen all this before, back when it was called The Blair Witch Project. And I'm not convinced The River adds anything new to what's become an increasingly tired formula.


The general setup for the show is this: Dr. Emmett Cole, a world-famous explorer and TV show host, has been missing in the Amazon jungle for six months when all of a sudden his emergency beacon activates. This prompts his former crew and co-stars, along with his wife and son, to head off into the jungle to find him. Naturally, they've got cameras rolling, and presumably it's this footage we viewers are privy to.

Off they go into a maze of spooky Amazonian waterways, where they discover Dr. Cole's ship and unwittingly release a ghost (?) from below decks and blah blah blah all shit breaks loose etc.

I'm sure this show will have its share of tense moments, but I'm convinced the "found footage" trend has become
a gimmick for filmmakers who know it's easier to thrash a camera around and include a bunch of off-screen shrieking instead of painting a visual story of what's actually going on. Yes, it can definitely be creepy and uncomfortable to experience the action via an unpredictable lens (it was, after all, done brilliantly in Blair Witch—and there's no doubt the Paranormal films are disturbing), but after a while, it just feels cheap. And frustrating—TURN THE CAMERA ON THE THING IN THE BUSHES OH MY GOD.

My prediction is that
The River may be gripping at first, but it won't have staying power. A 90-minute movie is one thing, but an ongoing series is something else. The River purports to take us on a mysterious adventure, but I doubt the journey will be worth the recycled themes, potential eye-strain, and cliched scare tactics.

Here's the trailer—what do you think?

Will you be watching The River tonight?

Image via YouTube

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