Thursday, 23 August 2012
ROGUE RIVER *½
This was another FrightFest 2011 omission on my part (I was off in the Disco Screen watching Paul Naschy doc THE MAN WHO MADE FRANKENSTEIN CRY) and with heinsight, having now seen ROGUE RIVER , I can't say I regret skipping it.
After a brief but potentially all too revealing pre-credit sequence which shows us a climatic scene from the end of the film, this low-budget US exploitation flick begins in an ok manner with a very sparse score accompanying aerial shots (think THE SHINING) of a car snaking its way across the landscape.
We soon learn that Mara (Michelle Page) is visiting the titular 'Rogue River' to scatter the remains of her deceased father. However, Mara is prevented from doing so by seemingly harmless busybody Jon (Bill Moseley) due to lack of a permit. Various plot contrivances ensue to establish the set-up of Mara being kept against her will in the home of the unhinged Jon and his sister/lover Lea (Lucinda Jenney).
The problem is you simply don't care as it all feels so derivative and plodding. The writing and pace isn't the film's only flaw as fatally the lead, Michelle Page, lacks any discernible charisma or screen presence resulting in clunky lines of dialogue being delivered in an equally tepid manner. Sadly, Mara's plight and failed attempts at escape only managed to raise my wrist to check the time rather than raise my pulse.
As the full homicidal lunacy of the her captors is revealed the body count rises but despite the best efforts of Moseley and Jenney I found their tyranny to be a bore rather than a threat. Seemingly aware that despite its short 80 minute running time the plot is running out of ideas the script then throws in an attempted shock twist that made me audibly groan with disdain. Not only is this knowingly tabboo reveal in bad taste it is rendered almost mute by the fact many other recent horror films have also done something similar in a far more effective way.
The film doesn't even have the grace to end where we begin as it not only replays the film's pre-credit sequence, it then has a very ill-judged coda whereby the nonsensical revelation alluded to earlier is taken then to a conclusion which leaves a bitter taste in your mouth - couched as it is in an idea of far greater significance than it deserves.
The Count's Verdict: You've literally scene everything in ROGUE RIVER before but done with far more imagination and craft. Don't bother with it.