Come on in, the water's constrictive... Rogue River (2012) Jourdan McClure, USA, 81 mins
Ever had one of those movies you've watched before, but didn't really remember watching until you were about halfway through watching it a second time? That was the kind of filmic deja vu that I found myself experiencing with Rogue River, a kidnapping and torture tale with a little bit more to it than some that I have seen before. The lead looked familiar to me from the get go but when Bill Moseley stepped into the picture I remembered this one, although not in terribly fine detail. So, just what is it all about? Well, Mara is a young lady who goes to the titular Rogue River to scatter her father's ashes. So she parks up and heads to the river, where she meets friendly-looking, middle-aged Jon. They talk a little and when they come back to the road, Mara's car is gone. Jon offers her a lift, stopping off at their house and meeting his wife, Lea. They invite her to stay there rather than going to a motel. Big mistake, of course...
Now, admittedly Mara is in a bit of a tricky spot, but it's another one of those movies where I can't help but wonder why no alarm bells start going off for our lead. There's a hint of strangeness before she goes to sleep in the spare room, and more than enough to make me think that I'd chance my arm roughing it in the words for the night. Naturally, Mara finds herself knocked unconscious, tied to the bed, with a terrible ordeal before her.
It's a fairly interesting version of the classic theme, to be honest, and the performances all around are pretty sinister. Michelle Page is serviceable as our damsel in distress Mara, while Bill Moseley gives a typical solid display and Lucinda Jenney is particularly good as Lea. But ultimately it's a road that has been trodden enough – in fact I would argue more than enough – and the crazy couple living in the middle of nowhere is a trope that is rather done to death. It's decent, but it's little more than that.
There's a sense in which I don't think I'll ever get the true popularity of movies in this vein. No doubt there's plenty of them out there, and they must be an indy filmmakers dream as relatively cheap to make and still holding a certain appeal and a certain audience. But haven't we seen it done enough? Surely there's a point where the market just becomes oversaturated? I've watched my share – probably more than my share – and rarely have they left a serious impression on me. Even brutally extreme takes like The Bunny Game or Flowers of Flesh and Blood don't really stick as pieces of art, and it's a rare example like Bloodshock or Scrapbook that truly stays with you.
RATING: 5/10. As you can probably tell from my introduction, it's not a movie that will live long in the memory, so it's a right down the middle rating here. It's done well, but it doesn't tread an awful lot of new ground. The performances are decent all around, and there's a few flashes of individuality shown throughout, but not enough to make it essential viewing. You might stick this on if you have an hour and a half to while away, but we've certainly had better here at Film Gutter.