RIVER, A Netflix Original Series. Reviewed

RIVER, A Netflix Original Series. Reviewed by Mord McGhee for the Horror Within Magazine. My opinions are my own and do not reflect those of anyone else on the planet or beyond, nor in any other dimension.

My choice this time around was a dark horse, a silent stalker of melancholy crime. “Old sins cast long shadows,” says Detective River, quoting a man who’d been released from prison after serving many years for murder. RIVER Season One had a few things I find fabulous in TV shows.

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…are lulls in action.

Sorry, I know that was unfair but it’s no secret American TV saturates our short-attention-span expectations with mega explosions, non-stop chases, gruesome acts, and over-the-top ACTION.

River is unique. It’s more of a brooding cocktail. A splash of Downton Abbey and True Detective, a twist of Law & Order, two whole Sixth Sense ‘s — shaken, not stirred into a tumbler filled partly with NAPTIME. All of these which I am a proponent and fan of. It’s dark, gloomy, filled with dialogue and ever-morphing facial expressions. Don’t be fooled by the opening scene, it slows down soon enough. In fact, it’s nearly the same conversation for six straight episodes.

Eddie Izzard fans can liken this to his “Oh Sebastian you’re counting matches…” routine.

RIVER has real-feel characters. It has a fantastic cast included Stellan Skarsgård, Nicola Walker, Eddie Marson, and one of my favorite men of the Night’s Watch from HBO’s A GAME OF THRONESOwen Teale. RIVER has intrigue. It has karaoke. It has beer. It has very cool scenes with the ghost of Dr. Thomas Neill Cream (for those of you non-Ripper enthusiasts, Cream is/was a possible suspect who is reported to have confessed the words “I am Jack…” as he was hanged to death). RIVER also has introspective therapy sessions. Think Sopranos, maybe… without Tony’s sarcastic sense of humor but with more of a depressed, alcoholic’s point of view.

RIVER does not have that certain magic which keeps me wanting to watch another episode. (I did…)

It has merit, not magic.

I can see why it’s seen as artistic, and Hell… even meaningful.

I get it.

However, it didn’t make me invest emotion as a viewer.

Doctor Cream is cool, if not obscure. Owen Teale needs more screen time, in my opinion. He rocks the jerk role. My take on this Netflix original? Maybe I liked it because of the timing versus its competition? The 3 alternative programs were dreadful this month. None of which I gave a single Great Cthulhu (star) to. Despite RIVER’s steady slowness, which is the main adjective I would use, it had moments where I thought, Hmm. Interesting.

It’s not pure horror nor exactly mystery. It’s a mixture of hard-boiled asylum paranormal and poignant dialogue tension. I give RIVER 3.5 Great Cthulhus out of 5. You might love it. You might tune out after the first hour. If you preferred the foreign Girl With a Dragon Tattoo over the American film… this may be for you. If you like conversations, brilliant acting, and an exploration of a gamut of facial expressions… this might be for you.

I think it serves its purpose in the greater scope of entertainment and above all else, Netflix needs to continue making this type of programming.

Until next time, it might not be a ghost you’re talking to… it could be a figment of your imagination or manifestation of the Devil.

Yours truly,

Mordy

 

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