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Rogue River (DVD Review)

We’re taking a step back today and bringing some low budget DTV on DVD into the light with our next review for something called Rogue River. Rogue River comes to us from Lionsgate’s vast DTV vault. The film stars Bill Moseley and Michelle Page. The film is also produced by that grown up tyke Zachary Bryan (the oldest son from television’s Home Imporvement), so something like this definitely lends itself to a certain sense of gravitas, if you will. In the grand scheme of things will Rogue River make it up the creek or will it sink in shallow water? Keep it here, folks.

 Film 

Mara (Michelle Page) is on her way to scatter the ashes of her father in a scenic area of the Rogue River, when one thing after another starts to go wrong, as they usually do in films like this. A passerby (Bill Mosely) comes by and tells her that she’s not really allowed to dump things in the river, because littering is not appreciated or something along those lines. In addition to no littering, Mara’s car gets towed by the police, which is funny, because the way the scene plays – Mosely’s character offers her a ride (that she knows she shouldn’t) take, but doesn’t ask the question of why his car wasn’t towed since it’s shown that he parked right behind her. These are some pretty dumb cops – they could have had  a two-for-one special.

Okay, Moseley’s name in the film is Jon. Jon is a very helpful fellow. Seeing as how Mara has stuff to do, is way out in the middle of nowhere, Jon is there to help and offers her a ride back to he and his wife’s home, so that she may use a phone to call for help. There’s no reception in that particular area, which renders her cell phone useless.

Jon introduces Mara to his wife, Lea (Lucinda Jenney). Take note that Bill and Lucinda area couple in real life, which enhances that particular dynamic. Mara is brought into the fold and quickly settles in for some dinner. Things are going great until Lea begins to act all twitchy over Mara dropping and shattering a plate. It’s from that moment on that Rogue River gets into high gear.

Mara discovers that she’s one of Jon and Lea’s pawns in some sick and random game of role-play. She’ll try to escape, but Jon and Lea may be more than a match for her. Rogue River really does have a lot going for it. It’s got a decent budget, fun actors, and what almost looks like a competent storyline. Well, that last part isn’t necessarily true.

I found myself talking to Mara through the tv screen, and wondering why she wasn’t listening to what I had to say. No, she should not have taken Jon’s ride. No, she should not have gone back to their place, and no she should not have had dinner with these strange people. Mara doesn’t seem to be that bright, does she. Common sense is thrown out the window and by the time we learn what Jon and Lea are really about it doesn’t even matter.

Rogue River could have used a tweak here and a tweak there. Mara should have watched more horror movies while growing up, because she’s not all that bright when it comes to getting herself in a pickle. I do not recommend Rogue River as a purchase, but rent it if you must, or catch it via streaming.

Video

Rogue River is presented in 480p upscaled to 1080p – 1.78:1 – widescreen – 16X9. For such a low budget production  it sure doesn’t look it and that’s why the video rating is so high. I’m not exactly sure if it was shot in digital (probably) or film, but the results are pretty impressive. Flesh tones look natural, even the coldish weather. Grain is present, contrast is subdued, but does boost somewhat depending on the scene. Colors are also very subdued. The overall look of the film is that of gloom, which compliments the doom aspect of the film. They nailed down the visual aesthetic and it works. Kudos on the DVD presentation for Rogue River.

Audio

Rogue River is presented in standard Dolby Digital 5.1 @448kbps. Don’t let the low bit rate fool you – this soundtrack is more than capable of kicking your ass. Dialogue is clear and audible and handles the screams of terror and despair perfectly. The directional sound effects pass through the remaining channels without any problems or interference. The LFE also kicks in when it has to. It creeps up and is certainly felt. The rear channels handle the outside ambient tones really well. It gets kind of creepy when characters go outside. Again, a top notch presentation in the audio department right here.

Extras 

I was pleasantly surprise to see that for being a DTV feature, lots of love was given in terms of special features on this DVD. There’s an audio commentary with cast and crew that’s a lot of fun. There’s a full length documentary focusing on the making of the film, and a short featurette chronicling the “bits” that were left out of the actual documenatary – it serves as extra insight. A trailer gallery is also included.

  • Commentary with Cast and Crew
  • Rogue River: A Look Inside the Madness
  • Rogue River: The Extra Bits
  • Trailer Gallery

Summary 

Rogue River could have been a much better film if it would have taken its time to expand a little bit more on what was presented. The film runs 81 minutes long (even less minus the end credits), so it really doesn’t shine a light on the evil that the bad guys do. The way it’s laid is that they’re just bad for the sake of being bad. Okay, but make it a tad bit more interesting – you’ve got bat-shit-insane Bill Moseley in your film, so why do I feel like he has to carry all the weight in making the film much more scary than what it is? Considering this is a DVD, the video/audio specs along with the special features elevate the overall film to the center with an overall 3-star final score. Rogue River is not a great film by any means, but it does get a few things right while getting a lot more things wrong.

 

 

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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