For whatever reason, some horror films just don't `gel' with me. Generally, it's pretty easy to find a respectable reason why not, and it often times relates to either too many stock characters, not enough substance behind a thin plot, or just poor filmmaking. I tend to like more story - or, at best, A STORY - with my frights; I think that's the least audiences can require in exchange for investing 60 minutes or more with any piece of film. ROGUE RIVER, though, really failed to move me in any way.
Mara (played by Michelle Page) and her brother Andrew (Chris Coy) recently lost their father. Seeking to scatter his ashes at someplace that would have personal meaning, she travels out to the remote Rogue River, but, before she can complete the deed, a kind stranger named Jon (Bill Moseley) warns her that she'd be breaking a local ordinance. Heading back to her car, she realizes it's been towed away (or has it?), and she takes a ride from Peter back to his place. Before she knows what's happened, Mara finds herself trapped in a house of insanity, fighting for her life against Peter and his sister's (Lea, as played by Lucinda Jenney) savage behaviors.
ROGUE RIVER has a lot of elements that should've made it a better film than what director Jourdan McClure managed to put together; however, the script - tackled by Ryan Finnerty and Kevin Haskin - misses the mark by never clearly underscoring why the brother and sister couple are doing any of the crazy things they do. There are hints toward the cause of the nefariousness, but it's never truly hammered home ... not hard enough for my tastes. Without spoiling it too much, Lea's dying of cancer, and she's apparently bent on having a child of her own (???), and since Peter's lost his wife and daughter earlier the two join forces to concoct their own happy little family from the strangers they can abduct. Well, the problem with that is, "Why treat the source for the villainy as an afterthought?" There are WAY too many things here that don't make sense - several of which I can't divulge without giving away plot surprises that defy logic - so the end result is ROGUE RIVER flows more like a dried up creek bed than it does a gentle spring.
On a bitter note, character actor Michael Cudlitz is absolutely wasted in an all-too-brief cameo-style appearance as a local sheriff who suffers the fate most local sheriffs suffer in films of this nature.
You can thank the people at Vision Entertainment Group and Kejo Productions, LLC for ROGUE RIVER. It looks and sounds about as well as any quickie independent horror flick could, should, or would though some of the `mike' work left a lot to be desired. The performances are what you can expect from this type of film: inspired to the point of screaming, but there's very little genuine menace. The disc comes with some surprisingly lengthy features from behind-the-scenes process, along with trailers and a commentary brought to you by the cast and crew.
RECOMMENDED only for diehard fans of "torture porn" horror flicks because there's really very little else available here. I've seen far worse examples of "torture porn" that have had far more story, and that's what's missing here: a central villain with an actual reason or suitable backstory for doing at least half of what he does would've given the script a chance to be more than yet another excuse to terrorize some young lass.
In the interests of fairness, the fine folks at Lionsgate provided me with a DVD screener copy of ROGUE RIVER for the expressed purposes of completing this review.