May 5, 2011

Movie Review: River of Darkness

Each year I watch a lot of movies. Good, bad, mediocre, I watch pretty much whatever I can get my hands on although I do tend towards genre fare. Being wired the way I am I was certainly intrigued by the idea of a horror movie starring a few professional wrestlers. While that concept is likely to send a lot of you running for the nearest exit it brought me knocking asking for a peek. The door was answered and I got a peek; unfortunately, when it was through I am wishing that no one was home.

River of Darkness is a horror movie in more than its genre description. It actually is a horror of writing, effects, acting, and direction. It is a dull, tepid mess of a movie that, for the sake of your brain cells, should be avoided at all costs. Far be it for me to really urge against a movie, so if you are so inclined don't let my negative words sway you from seeing it. Be my guest, watch the movie, just don't come crying to me when you feel your intelligence drop from the experience.  I can put up with a lot and I have been known to enjoy my fair share of bad movies, but this is one that I just cannot get past.

There have been a few wrestlers who have turned in good acting performances or at least serviceable bit parts. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson immediately comes to mind as one who has successfully made the transition. Others who have made decent acting turns include Adam Copeland, Steve Austin, and Chris Jericho (sort of). Closer in tone to what we have here would be See No Evil featuring Kane. That was a B-grade horror movie I can get behind.

In this case we get not one but three professional wrestlers. In the lead is Kurt Angle as the town sheriff,  and showing up in much smaller roles are Kevin Nash and Sid Vicious as a couple of undead ghouls out for a little killing.

What is River of Darkness about? Not much of anything really. The movie opens with a girl rolling joints in the bathroom and then subsequently killed and hung up as a warning. The old horror movie rule of not dong drugs still holds true, apparently. Sheriff Kurt Angle (who cares what his character is called) is on the case, but is unable to solve it before a couple more townsfolk are killed in similarly brutal fashion. Both the girl and these later guys have the letters "Hix" carved into them. Could it be a message? Why yes, I think it just may be.

As the story goes, a trio of vagrants were murdered, lynched in cold blood by a man named Hix and other townsfolk. This came after they were wrongfully accused of rape by a young woman. Decades later the trio have returned to exact their revenge.

Nothing particularly special happens. It is all standard fare so far as horror movies go. While standard does not immediately translate to bad, everything else about this production does. The story makes not attempt to develop the story or the characters. For example, Kurt Angle's sheriff is clearly not from the town and does not seem well liked, but it is alluded to that he won an election for the role. What? That's all we get. None of the rest is any more interesting. The characters are bland and are forced to recite bland, uninteresting dialogue. The effects are weak, the pacing is slow, and it is just torturous to sit through.

River of Darkness is just a sloppy production all the way through. It is almost like it was made by a couple of college students on a weekend off with a camcorder that their parents left lying around. That and I suspect they watched The Fog one too many times and decided to make a cheapie Cliff's Notes version of it.

The movie was watched on a provided screener, which was not final production copy. Due to this I cannot comment on how the film will look in its final form. Suffice to say, the screener was a little soft with blacks that were more gray and an audio track that lacked much life with dialogue that felt oddly disconnected from the image. As far as any extra material goes, a trailer was included.

Not Recommended.

Article first published as Movie Review: River of Darkness on Blogcritics.

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