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‘River’ review: Uneven writing and storytelling muddies the waters

What just happened?

River is a science fiction thriller that confuses audiences almost immediately. Within the first five lines there is a confusingly written one that will make audiences wonder what sort of undead film they are in for. Thankfully, it does get better, but not by much.  By the end, most will be left questioning what they just watched – and in some cases, why.

The film is about a young woman (Mary Cameron Rogers) who has returned home following her mother’s death. While she is trying to piece her life together, she suddenly disappears for a week. She soon uncovers secrets about herself and those closest to her.

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The writing is all over the place. Interesting descriptions rarely heard seriously are interjected seamlessly into the script. Every once in a while, writer-Director Emily Skye will get in a real gem.

'River' review: Uneven writing and storytelling muddies the waters

Unfortunately, River is filled with uninspired teen drama dialogue. For whatever reason, this is especially noticeable whenever River’s former boyfriend Jamie (Rob Marshall) is on screen. The fault does not seem to lie with the performance; it is as if Skye does not know what to do with the character. 

The film also uses voiceovers from River constantly to provide more depth. These moments rarely work. The writing takes center stage, which is not necessarily a good thing. They rarely add to the mystery or characters.

Add in flashbacks that muddle the timeline, and River becomes a more frustrating watch than it has to be. Compounding matters is a plot twist that feels undeserved and off kilter. Ultimately, nothing comes together like it should.

River comes to on demand July 13

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