Oftentimes in the horror genre, success depends not on the subject matter but what the filmmakers do with it. Such is the case with Jourdan McClure's, Rogue River. The movie is a torturous affair similar to recent genre efforts Mum and Dad and The Loved Ones.
The story is all too familiar; Mara who is recovering from her fatherís death runs afoul of a clan of crazies and must fight for survival. Unfortunately, there isn't much more to the plot, but a film like Rogue River is more about the visceral experience.
Genre veteran, Bill Moseley, heads out the cast and his performance is masterful. Moseley's ability to vacillate between charismatic charmer and terrifying psychotic at the drop of a hat is stunning. Although Moseley has portrayed many villains, not many of them have been as mesmerizing as this one. His role as Otis in House of 1000 Corpses is more iconic but here he is infinitely more bizarre and chameleon-like; shifting from kindly old stranger to manic eyed psychopath.
His female companion as played by Lucinda Jenney is equally as unsettling for reasons I would rather not spoil here. The two vie for who can creep out the audience more effectively but ultimately Moseley is who most people will show up to see. Michelle Page is serviceable as the weepy Mara but her performance is far from memorable.
The first half of Rogue River is very promising. McClure builds a somber and haunting prologue to the madness that will occur later. There are quiet moments as Mara ruminates on her fatherís death. We encounter lush vistas and thoughtful montages as she treks into the wilderness to spread her fatherís ashes. It is here that she meets Bill Moseley and her car is mysteriously towed away. It is impossible not to know where this is going but for the first forty five minutes the movie had me.
Seeming to be a kindly stranger, it isnít long before Moseley has invited Mara to stay the night in his house. In one of the creepiest scenes in the movie, she wakes up in the middle of the night to find Moseley watching her sleep wearing only his underwear. Itís immensely unsettling and Moseley sells it.
It is when things take a turn for the worst that the film loses its footing. Everything plays out just as you would expect. There are a couple twists but for the most part once the action gets going, it feels like we are sleepwalking through a familiar scenario.
The major reveal that comes midway through the movie is laughable. It makes no sense and seems to happen for pure shock value. By the third act, the movie had all but lost me. When we get to the climactic showdown between Mara and Bill something so incredibly stupid happened that I couldnít help but audibly groan.
Rogue River is not a bad movie by any means; the scenes of suspense and horror are handled very well and the first half of the movie is riveting. With a better script the movie would have been worth seeing. As it stands, the only reason to recommend this is to see Bill Moseley. For most horror fans Rogue River will not linger very long after the credits roll.