River City Panic Review

“… I’m glad I waited so long to watch this film, so I wasn’t so emotionally invested in its quality.”

Many moons ago I was really into Kickstarter and as a result I have a few backed projects under my belt; one of these projects was an indie film called ‘River City Panic’. Now I donated to the River City Panic campaign in (I think) 2013, but I only now got around to watching the movie. Why did it take me so long? I’m honestly not sure. But much like someone who was sick on 9/11, it now feels like divine intervention. River City Panic is a movie about a bunch of people (their age isn’t clear) who decide to break their plans of hanging out in a basement watching Die Hard 2, and spend the night on the town. As it turns out, this night is also the night when the town is plagued by a curse (or illness, once again this isn’t made clear) that causes all of the townspeople to want to kill other townspeople (I think. For the third time, this isn’t really clear).

Really the only problem with River City Panic is that there is no “just right”; the movie, in every instance, either has too much of something or too little. For instance, one of the most annoying parts of this film is the comedy. The jokes in River City Panic aren’t funny (save for a few), but that’s not the problem I have with them. No, the problem I have is despite the jokes not being funny, they’re punctuated in the film with way too much silence. It’s fine to think that your jokes are funny, but when making a movie don’t leave 30 second delay for laughter after every fucking attempt at humour. And it’s not even just the silence, some jokes are beat unit the ground right before your eyes. Instead of showing restraint River City Panic decides to take what “works”, and draw it out until you fucking hate everything about it. On the flip side, the film’s plot is rushed by so fast I damn near got whiplash. River City Panic doesn’t take a minute to explain anything, which I appreciate in theory but in practice it leaves you thoroughly confused throughout the entire film. Things happen so fucking fast in this movie, and the plot is so bizarre that you lose the thread almost instantly. First they’re in a basement, then their watching a robbery, then their being chased by crazy people, then their digging up a corpse, etc. This movie takes you on one hell of a ride, but it’s not fun in the slightest because you’re fucking blindfolded. And because you have no idea what the fuck is going on, you lose interest in any and all dialogue scenes. This makes a 65 minute movie feel like a 605 minute movie. All the film really has left is the jokes, and I’ve already explained why that falls through. The music in the film, while good, is used almost as a crutch most of the time. Instead of having it in the background it is made a centrepiece which turns the film into a shitty music video a lot of the time. This is jarring and makes the film feel disjointed. And finally the acting in the film is not good. This one is interesting because it is simultaneously “too much” and “too little”; every single performance is either ham fisted to a frustrating degree, or so bad that you can’t help but wonder why they were even asked to be in the film in the first place.

Now I know that my words are very harsh, and on the off chance that anyone who worked on the film reads this I want to say that I mean all of what I said in the best possible way. This criticism should be taken as constructive, not destructive. I love movies, and I know that making indie films is hard business. Sure, I pretty much hated this film but guess what? I hate the many attempts at movies that I’ve made too. This is obviously a jumping-off point for the filmmakers, and if I’m being honest it’s not a bad one. The one positive I can give River City Panic is that the direction we great. River City Panic looked professional, but unfortunately the substance (or lack thereof) left it feeling like a polished turd.

River City Panic is not a good movie. Well, I guess I should say that it isn’t a movie that I liked. It never really nailed the perfect degree of anything, leaving most of the film feel either packed or barren. The film’s direction was good, but that’s about it. The best thing I can say about River City Panic is just that I’m glad I waited so long to watch this film, so I wasn’t so emotionally invested in its quality. Because let me tell you, if I could remember how much money I donated to the Kickstarter, I would be pissed.

I give River City Panic a D

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