ABC debuted its bold new horror-mystery series "The River" (Tue., 9 p.m. EST on ABC) with a two hour premiere. The series features the found footage format popularized recently in the "Paranormal Activity" films, among others. It's a very effective tool in keeping the viewer in the same sense of panic and uncertainty as the characters. And with a multitude of cameras in use because they are filming a show within the show, things aren't as tight and jerky as what was seen on "The Blair Witch Project."
In other words, the cameras are shaky -- except for several mounted cameras on the boat and in the trees -- but there are more vantage points, and with professionals at the helm, there's a feeling of controlled chaos.
HuffPost TV critic Maureen Ryan listed several reasons to tune into "The River," along with several to avoid it. Viewers who tuned in likely were coming up with their own pros and cons. As Ryan pointed out, though, this is only an eight-episode season, so it's already a quarter of the way through its run after this premiere.
The opening hour established the players of the drama: a mother and son looking for their husband and father who's lost in the Amazonian jungles. He was a beloved nature show host named Emmet Cole, who, like Steve Irwin, got mixed up with the magic of the river and its region. In the premiere, the search team found the Magus, Cole's ship, which became the central point for their ongoing search.
In the ship, they discovered a strange evil spirit trapped in the panic room. They accidentally freed it, which lead to the show's first casualty. In both episodes, the primary "evil thing" they encountered was taken care of by the end of the hour, a signal that the show is following an odd procedural horror format, complemented by the larger story arc of the search for Emmett Cole. Will they find him by the end of this first season?
Find out as "The River" continues Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST on ABC.
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