Yeah, I'm one of those people who is kind of obsessed with the "found footage" craze. And yes, I'm quite comfortable admitting it. It's done wonders resurrecting the horror genre, and it's teaching our cynical generation to just enjoy something for an hour and a half before hating it. (see www.greatideaspodcast.com, Episode 2) Shameless plug. Did you think I'm above it? Well, I'm not.
And all of the progress that "found footage" has made recently- the "Paranormal Activity" franchise, "Quarantine" (a remake of a foreign film, "REC." The sequel to that, "REC 2," is one of my top five horror movies of all time), etc.- is dashed and reduced by ABC's "The River."
For starters, taking the found footage and applying it to the long term potential of a television program is like giving a toddler the New York Times and asking them to summarize the business section for you. It's just not the place for such a request. Audiences will lose faith in a novel idea faster than the toddler will use the newspaper for confetti.
The duality of this two-hour train wreck will be it's undoing. The acting pulled you in, in a "maybe it'll be like Lost and spawn a couple of careers" sort of way. But the moment you're in, you start absorbing elements: a lost father, a misguided son, a guilt-filled wife, a dedicated film crew of friends.
Sounds like a solid start? Well then let's flip the coin and check this plot unfold. We've got a scary bat-creature, possession, ghosts, a mysterious tribe of locals, magic, dolls in the trees (WTF???), dolls in trees watching people, so on and so forth to the point where you'll ask yourself aloud "What the hell is all of this?"
It seems that the writers of the show have a ton of ideas, but they decided to take the un-"Lost" route and throw them all at you at once, as if they know time's not on their side.
By the end of the two hour debut, I had only one question: why would I want to watch this again? Week to week, do I want to put so much effort into deciphering what is and isn't important in all of the plot points being hurled at me?
At least MY side of the issue is simple: NO.