Disclaimer: My reviews of media here do not mean that I lay any claim to the media in question. All reviews are entirely subjective. I may talk about how well the movie objectively works in my opinion, but it essentially all comes down to what I think of the movie. My liking a movie is not the same as thinking it's a great movie. If I trash a movie that you love, or love a movie you can’t stand, it’s not because I hate you. Also, all reviews are likely to contain SPOILERS. If you haven’t seen the movies in question and don’t want to know what happens, then you probably shouldn’t be reading about them here. Finally, a blanket trigger warning for people who don't want to read about common horror movie content such as sexism, racism, violence, etc.: I will likely discuss all of the above when they show up in the films I review, so please tread with caution. Check out this post for more on how my reviews are set up.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Horror Episode Review: The River, Episode 3

Episode 3: Los Ciegos

Overall: C
Acting: C
Writing: C-
Story: C
Technical aspects: B
Effects: C+

Directed by:
Michael Katleman

Joe Anderson
Leslie Hope
Eloise Mumford
Paul Blackthorne
Daniel Zacapa
Pauline Gaitan
Thomas Kretschmann
Shaun Parkes
Bruce Greenwood

In Episode 3, the crew is still seeking to rescue Emmet Cole. They hope that they have some kind of new lead, and go into the jungle. Unfortunately, when they stop for the night, it becomes clear that something is following them. Jahel, who has the most knowledge of the superstitions and legends of the area, believes that they’re being followed by the Morcego, a semi-paranormal/semi-real tribe that will judge whether they are worthy of survival or not. (Since it’s this show, of course she’s right.) After spending the night in the jungle, one by one they start to go blind. Seeking answers on the boat, they find out that it’s probably a poison, which has an antidote, if they can find the right tree. The few non-blinded members set off to seek out the antidote. Meanwhile, everyone on the boat has gone blind, including Lincoln, who is trying to tend a very severe wound of Clark’s. And of course the Morcego are on the ship as well, threatening to kill them. And meanwhile on the expedition off-boat, the cameraman A.J. is the only one who can still see, but he plans on abandoning the others. Ultimately he finds the antidote, though he has to face what turns out to, of course, be his most paralyzing fear in order to do so.

Spoilers for the episode: seriously, this crappy ending bugs the hell out of me. Simultaneously A.J. and Clark do something self-sacrificing. Cool. And this means that the Morcego decide to let them live, going so far as to actually save A.J. from death. But… really. It’s just so… cliché, yes? The idea that “oh, we’re so doomed, oh God, what will we do? We’re all going to die, because we’re being judged” but then oh, someone is willing to be a martyr, so everything is okay again, because of the goodness of the human spirit. It’s just so obvious and such an overplayed trope that I couldn’t take it seriously. End of the most serious spoilers.

Otherwise the episode is all right. I liked the development A.J. got as a character, since we didn’t see much of him in the first two episodes. Enough new hints were placed for some of the ongoing plot threads to keep it interesting. The Morcego were pretty creepy looking, though they held to the idea that “the less you see the scarier it is” for most of the episode. Once you do get a good look at them, they’re plenty freaky, but kinda in the same way the dolls in episode 2 were. Like it’s just so obviously done specifically TO be creepy, that it doesn’t feel surprising or real. I know that horror obviously has the aim to be horrifying, but something about this just feels like they’re doing it wrong. I’m not sure I can explain what I mean all that well... But in my opinion (for the kind of horror this seems to want to be,) doing it right would be a good atmospheric horror, where it’s unsettling and creepy and the horror serves to further the story. Where ultimately, the story is most important, it just happens to have a bunch of creepy happening, too. And this feels more like they just wrote a story with the intent of tying various creepy things together, so they can point and go “hey, it’s horror!”

I’ve heard a lot of “OH GOD, THIS IS THE WORST THING EVER PUT ON TELEVISION” opinions, and I think that’s kind of an exaggeration. It’s still entertaining enough and has a few legitimately creepy moments, but it’s also kind of underwhelming. Probably especially so if you’ve seen a lot of horror things in the past. My opinion hasn’t changed much since the first couple episodes. I’m still watching, and still want to see more, but this episode definitely felt weaker than the first two, and that’s not what I hope for out of a short series.

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