by Ana Luisa Crivorot
First off, let’s make the following clear: “The River” is not the next “Lost,” nor is it trying to be. This show is modeling itself much more after “Paranormal Activity” than “Lost.” The formula for the “Paranormal Activity” works well for a movie ninety minutes long, giving the viewers a non-stop, shaky cam thrill ride. But can this work in a TV series? Yes–“American Horror Story” successfully pulled off a season rife with horror. Sadly, “The River” is not quite up to “Horror Story” standards, and comparing the two would be like comparing “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” with “Survivor.” One show contains brilliant writing and characters, and the other show is just good entertainment. But can “The River” succeed in its own right?
In the horror department, the show continues to thrive. A disemboweled, decomposing body is found rotting in a cave, torturing the characters with unanswered questions. A haunting story called “Los Mocergos” sends shivers down the characters’ spines.
And yet, none of this is as terrifying as blindness—an epidemic that infects almost the entire group. As the characters struggle to survive such an unusual attack, the tension is heightened, making for a deliciously suspenseful hour of television.
As of now, the characters are not as three-dimensional as they could be. But perhaps the most curious character is Jahel (Paulina Gaitan), the teenage daughter of the ship’s mechanics. She seems to know something about the danger that they are facing that none of the other characters do. Does she have a connection with the spirits that are hunting them down? The actress shines in that role, utterly scaring the viewers whenever she speaks—her eyes, in particular, are deep with mystery. The writers would best advised to give her more screen time.
In regards to relationships, the show is steadily advancing the chemistry between Lincoln (Joe Anderson) and Lena (Eloise Mumford). I predict that by Episode 5, the two will be in a relationship—though hopefully it won’t hamper the show’s best qualities: its spooky moments.
As the search for Emmet (Bruce Greenwood) continues, Tess (Leslie Hope) still struggles with the guilt over her affair and the ugly state of her marriage. This plotline is still repetitive, and hopefully the writers choose to move onto more interesting plotlines next week.
Meanwhile, the mystery behind Emmet’s expedition and disappearance remains elusive. It would be nice to have some more time devoted to the show’s burning questions, like where is Emmet and how did he disappear? A few clues would be nice. Nevertheless, “The River” still remains a worthwhile thriller that’s far from perfect, but certainly not boring.
Ana Luisa Crivorot is a contributing writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.