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Featured DVD Review: Rogue River

June 3rd, 2012

Rogue River - Buy from Amazon

One of many low-budget horror films I have gotten the chance to review in my job. Rogue River is the directorial debut for Jourdan McClure and is based on a script by Kevin Haskin and Ryan Finnerty, who combined have written one feature-length movie previous to this one. Is this a good movie? Is it a good movie, considering the lack of experience for the director and screenwriters? Or should fans of the genre perhaps wait to see some of their future work?

The Movie

After a brief flash of events yet to come, we meet Mara (Michelle Page) saying goodbye to her brother, Andrew, before driving to Rogue River in Oregon do dispose of the ashes of her father. It's a bit of a walk from the road to the river and it is obviously emotional for her, so she's not happy when she's interrupted by Jon. He just wants to warn her that disposing of the remains could be against the law. They get to talking and he seems really kind. When they get back to the road, she finds her car is gone, and being so far away from civilization, she can't get any cell phone reception either. Jon offers to drive her into town, but they will have to stop by his house first, so he can tell his wife. Mara hesitates, but agrees to go in the end.

By the time Jon and Mara get to his house and he talks to his wife, Lea, it's getting late and she's preparing dinner. Lea offers to let Mara stay the night, as opposed to staying in a crummy motel in town. At first, Mara hesitates, because she really wants to get her car back and go home, but she agrees to stay. That night, the weirdest of her two hosts gets ramped up, to the point where any sane person would grab their bag and leave. And amazingly, that's just what she does. Unfortunately, she doesn't get too far down the road before Jon ambushes her and whacks her on the head and drags her unconscious body back to the house.

Given what we see at the beginning of the film, she knows it's just going to get worse for her.

A young lady traveling along in a rural area. She becomes stranded. Accepts some help from a kindly couple. But only too late learns these people are dangerous. That is a formula that has been used time and time again. However, there are many films that follow a tested formula and are still worth checking out, because they use this formula to tell an interesting story with interesting characters. Unfortunately, this is not one of them. The biggest flaw is the lack of interesting characters. For the most part, Jon and Lea are merely crazy, which doesn't give you much room for character development. Additionally, they were not crazy in a way that made them threatening, although they do do some horrible things in the movie. They were more crazy in a way that makes you wonder how they committed any crimes. Also, Mara doesn't have a lot going on either and she tends to make the same stupid decisions that a lot of horror victims make. Granted, she does try to leave, but she waits far too long before running away. The script needed to spend a lot more time developing the characters in the movie before the average moviegoer will care about the events that take place.

On the other hand, poorly developed characters are the bane of this subgenre. I've seen enough of these films to safely say that for most fans, this one will be roughly average.

The Extras

The extras are better than expected, starting with an audio commentary track with the two producers, Zachery Ty Bryan and Adam Targum; the director, Jourdan McClure; and the lead actress, Michelle Page. It's a good mix of information and energy. There is also a massive 45-minute long making of featurette. And finally, there are about five minutes more behind-the-scenes.

The Verdict

Rogue River is in the, "Kindly couple turns out to be psychos" subgenre of horror films and if you are into that genre, it might be worth a rental. The DVD is loaded with extras when compared to most, but the film itself doesn't have much replay value.


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