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The River – Dolls. Creepy freakin’ dolls!

Now that you've seen the first pair of episodes of ABC's 'The River', will the filming style will be too much to endure for the life of the series, or is the story good enough to keep you on?

- Season 1, Episode 1, 2 - "Pilot / Marbeley"

When I posted my preview of The River some time ago, it was only based on the first hour, the Pilot. For some reason I’d missed that there was a second hour available to watch, so I didn’t catch it until tonight. While I’m still not sure I’m completely down with the show, the term “doll tree” may rank right up there as one of the more creepy things on TV in some time.

What I think bugs me about this show — and why I’m not ready to fully commit to it yet — is that it’s just so much like Paranormal Activity in its filming style that it’s absurd. That stands to reason somewhat, as Paranormal Activity creator Oren Peli is responsible for creating The River. Though Paranormal Activity did quite well in the box office — especially with regards to its budget-to-profit ratio — it seems The River is merely serving as proof that Peli is a one-trick pony.

Yes, there are plenty of other faux-documentary-style movies out there, and most if not all of them seem to be of the horror/sci-fi ilk. But The River captures a few other styles that are stripped directly from Peli’s other work, such as the sped up camera at night; the “something para-electrical is messing with the camera” jitters; something always happening behind the person on-camera; and the obscured approach to something odd or unexplained, just to have the “something” jump up and make you shit your pants … or at least try to (damn, that monkey with the mask was creep-ola!)

As with all the other docu-horror-style movies, there’s faith by the creator, writers and director that the viewers will not be bothered by the fact that these fictional people — going through something that’s supposed to come across as real, at least to the characters — will continue to plod on, regardless of the insanity surrounding them. Saner people would pack their bags and move out of that obviously haunted house or gun that boat motor back to civilization. Can we all push that illogical thinking by these characters aside and enjoy what’s left?

As for how things ended after these last two hours, I’m not sure the mythology behind Emmet Cole’s disappearance is entirely engaging. There’s the tattoo on Lena’s back, which I take to mean she was supposed to be the one to wear the necklace Emmet gave to his son, Lincoln. What will that have to do with how we’ll find Emmet? Or does it have to do with something much bigger than simply a missing TV personality?

So, are you still aboard The River boat to insanity, or have you had enough?


4 Responses to “The River – Dolls. Creepy freakin’ dolls!”

February 8, 2012 at 7:23 AM

I’m generally squeamish about horror, but that was laughably weak. The tension was so lacking that I actually fell asleep during the first hour, and missed enough exposition that I didn’t really care about anyone in the second hour. I liked the engineer’s daughter well enough, and the actress is committed, but her ominous pronouncements of evil and doom (that several characters can’t even understand) made my roll my eyes.

The doll tree might have been unsettling if they had kept the documentarian conceit intact and actually showed what the cameramen were filming. The multiple quick cuts and extreme close ups only served to interrupt the suspension of disbelief.

February 8, 2012 at 3:27 PM

Not on board. I was laughing during the scene when the Spanish-speaking daughter was supposedly possessed by Emmet. It was awkward and ridiculous. I thought this show was going to be annoying, aka Lost, but it’s just third rate horror wanna-be. Very disappointed.

But I’ll give them the creepy doll tree. …

February 13, 2012 at 8:47 PM

I wan’t see more of these TV series

March 4, 2012 at 2:42 AM

I have to disagree with the above opinions. I’ve loved the show since it started, and the doll tree was so creepy. I love horror/thrillers and was unsure how it would play out on a TV show, but I’m hooked.

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