FrightFest 2011: ‘Rogue River’ adds nothing new to the genre

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Rogue River

Directed by Jourdan McClure

Starring Michelle Page, Bill Moseley, Lucinda Jenny

USA 2010

First time helmer Jourdan McClure does a solid job with this effective but ultimately disposable horror / thriller that treads a well-worn genre path, not dissimilar to Misery or I Spit on Your Grave.

A distraught Mara visits a remote fishing location in Southern Oregon to spread the ashes of her recently diseased father. When her car mysteriously vanishes, she decides to trust the kindly stranger she met merely ten minutes ago and allows him to take her to his house to call for help where his obviously unhinged wife also lives. Improbable circumstances occur and Mara ends up having to stay the night, which is when the couple’s true nature boils to the surface.

There’s little directly wrong with Rogue River aside from it’s contrived opening segment which sees our protagonist make a series of unbelievably stupid decisions, failing to notice the red flags that flare up constantly throughout the wind-up to the eventual punch. It’s well made, shot and edited. The score is functional and the acting is solid across the board. Bill Moseley especially impresses in a surprisingly complex and subtle performance that goes against his normal typecasting.

There are, however, numerous plot points that just don’t add up and the ending is a little deflated, though perhaps refreshingly so. The final scene leaves a rather apathetic smirk as opposed to the dark twist they were obviously aiming for.

If you’re a big fan of this type of movie then you could certainly do worse than Rogue River, but if you’re new to it all then there are far more impressive places to start.

The best thing I took from Rogue River was the initial idea for the exciting movie that this could have been had it taken a very different road about halfway through, which for my money would have been one of the few ways to re-invigorate this genre – a genre which I’m swiftly losing interest in.

– Al White. 

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