Rogue River forces me to question what exactly horror movies are about. We all know that they are meant to illicit fear, but at what cost? Is the energy taken to give a shock, scare, or twist more important than the energy needed to weave together a cohesive and engaging story? The great horror films can tightrope both of these needs in order to create a masterpiece, but this film seems to fall off the edge and into the pool that horror seems to be drowning in today. So saturated, society seems to be yearning for the next big scare, and unfortunately horror directors are trying to give them what they want while sacrificing what horror needs.
Rogue River is the story of a girl named Mara (Michelle Page) who suffers from bad luck in so many different ways. When attempting to spread the ashes of her late father over Rogue River, a gentleman named Jon (Bill Moseley) informs her that littering remains is frowned upon. With charm and a smile, he entices Mara to save her ashes and walks her back up to her car. The car is gone, but Jon offers her a ride to his house in order to call someone to get her car back. Usually this is the point where I blame the protagonist (Mara) for being stupid enough to get in a stranger's car and go to a stranger’s house. I wasn’t stupid, I knew that horrible things would occur at this house, but due to the very realistic charm that Jon put off, I wasn’t so sure that he was going to be the one to hurt Mara. My future children will be told never to get in anyone’s car, but considering the circumstances and how compromised Mara was due to her emotions, it almost seemed intelligent. Well, in hindsight it was a pretty stupid move and the rest of the film consists of Mara falling into darker and darker circumstances. So how dark does it get? I would argue too dark. I love horror movies and the torture sub-genre is not something that I cringe at. I think that torture in horror movies can be used in a very productive manner when it comes to heightening tension or the uneasiness of the viewer. This film takes it too far due to the fact that no one can have such bad luck, therefore resulting in a movie that just doesn’t seem believable. If there was one word I could use to describe this movie, it would be overkill. It started off well with a generic but enticing story, but then the torture and cheesy scares just kept adding up and adding up. By the end it felt like the morning after ten Irish car bombs and a Red Stripe.
There are some good things to take away from this movie. I thought that Mara’s acting was superb and even the villains, Jon and Lea, did a good job making their lunacy seem realistic. The atmosphere was also enjoyable, with a good use of beautiful forest shots and omnipotent morning fog. Yet with all of this, it felt as if even the actors were tired of all the twists and kills. Three lefts make a right, but twenty lefts just make you dizzy, confused, and lost.
Horror island receives a pair of serial killers that act the part so well it almost doesn’t seem real. At Halloween, I love to throw on my mask and run around and scare people, but do you think that the individuals on horror island do that? Real killers play the part so well that you don’t know they are playing the part. Sadly for these two killers, horror island sees right through masks, so I hope that they have more tricks up their sleeve or the chances of survival are slim.
If you liked Rogue River, you might also like The Loved Ones and Silent House.