I’m sure most of you have seen the previews for ABC’s The River and wondered just what exactly the show is all about. Some might have thought it’s an attempt by the network to try and recapture the magic they had with Lost. Since one of the creators of the show was Oren Peli of Paranormal Activity fame, others might wonder if some of that will appear in the new series. Well both are essentially right since The River has that same foundation, besides the fact that both shows take place in tropical locations. Plus, this show is meant to scare you, there is no mistaking that.

The plot centers around Dr Emmet Cole, a famous explorer and host of The Undiscovered Country, who has gone missing in the Amazon. 6 months later, his emergency beacon mysteriously activates. Cue journey to discover the ‘truth’ with a motley crew, no pun intended. Cole’s wife Tess is incredibly zealous abiut finding him while his son Lincoln, who has obvious Daddy issues is reluctant. Clark is Cole’s ex-producer, who seems to be only concerned with capturing the journey on camera. Lena fills the attractive woman role whose cameraman father disappeared along with Cole. Emilio is the ship’s mechanic who has his daughter, Jahel, along for the ride.

One of the things that makes The River stand out from other shows is its camera style. There are no fixed camera shots, but the entirety of the show is shot documentary-style. Cole’s ship, the Magus, which serves as a home base for the crew, has cameras set up everywhere, previously used to capture footage for TV show. The footage viewers see is shot by cameramen from that show, so it gives the viewer the illusion that they are almost right there, as if they are the camera operators themselves. The producers of The River use this filming technique as a way to build tension and fear quite effectively. They create those tense, scary moments, but do the big ‘reveal’ when the viewer least expects it. The frantic cuts and shaky cameras during these scenes really add to the storytelling.

One of the main aspects that might make viewers incredulous are the supernatural occurrences that are more then hinted at. When the Magus is attacked during the pilot, we are led to believe that it’s not just an animal. However, the way it’s presented makes for good television. There are only brief glimpses on the ship’s cameras. There is a sequence during the second episode that does stretch the edges of incredibility, but at the same time it works well within the show’s universe. This is what people need to remember before dismissing the basis of The River.  Immersing oneself in the show’s unique world makes watching it much more enjoyable. It is a very promising show that has a unique filming style and varied cast of characters and will be interesting to see how the show develops.


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