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Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Film review – Rogue River

My notes on the 2011 FrightFest selection.

‘Haven’t you figured it out yet?  There’s nothing but ugliness here.’

 

This plodding, unoriginal – if decently-made – ordeal falls into the ‘oh, another one’ category of horror.  It opens with Mara (Michelle Page), a distressed, battered woman in a tattered shift/wedding dress sobbing in the woods, and raising a gun as if to shoot herself in the head … when we catch up to this scene, it turns out that the baddie picks the wrong time to jeer at her for being a coward since she shoots him instead.  In between, in flashback, Mara visits Rogue River to scatter her parents’ ashes, only to be cautioned by passerby Jon (Bill Moseley, typecast) about littering with human remains.  The folksy fellow walks her back to her car, which is gone, and offers to put her up at his home, which he shares with Lea (Lucinda Jenney), who seems friendly – only the pair reveal their freak sides in lurches: when she tries to help with dropped dishes, Mara gets sliced by Lea across the hand, prompting a close-up stitching with a fishhook; Mara wakes up to find Jon in his underpants watching her, cradling her Dad’s ashes and saying he’s been talking with the dead man; Lea attacks her again, and in the tussle loses her wig to show she’s dying of cancer.  It turns out the couple – incestuous brother and sister – have invaded the house and have the owner in a trunk in the cellar, having killed his family.  A deputy comes by asking after the missing woman, and gets shot in the head.  For bizarre reasons, Mara is forced to have sex with an injured man who turns out to be her own brother (Chris Coy).  After that, it’s the usual hobble-about-and-get-revenge bit.  Moseley has done dozens of these things, and is always just a bit better than he needs to be (he had a hand in producing, along with Page, and co-stars with his wife, Jenney), and Page has a distinctive look which elevates her slightly from the hapless heroine rut.  But contrived nastiness for its own sake is wearing thin as a horror gambit, and there was no particular need to go through all this again.  With Michael Rooker in a bit part.  The Oregon locations are nice, and there’s an understated, lyrical score – but, seriously, couldn’t these people and these resources have been used on something with a jot of newness.  Written by Kevin Haskin and Ryan Finnerty; directed by Jourdan McClure.  Copyright 2010.

 

Here’s a trailer.

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