ShockMarathons // 2012 // 99 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 28th, 2012
He's the most indecorous aquatic menace of all-time.
In the wilds that abut the Merrimack River, a mysterious creature lurks. It is the Riverbeast, a mythical monster hewn into the fabric of Rivertown, USA lore -- despite the fact that no one has ever seen it...or seriously thinks it exists.
Well, almost no one. Neil Stuart (Matt Farley) is a celebrated tutor and proud Rivertown resident who exiled himself after an embarrassing PR nightmare for espousing his belief in the Riverbeast. But something is stirring on the shores of the mighty river, and Stuart returns home just as the Riverbeast is poised to wreak havoc.
Before he faces off against this mortal foe and achieves vindication, Neil has many more obstacles to overcome, such as resurrecting his lucrative tutoring career, rehabilitating his name in the press and wooing the girl of his dreams.
And that's Don't Let the Riverbeast Get You! You know, maybe I'm blinded by my appreciation of a local Manchester, NH guy getting his indie filmmaking groove on, but goodness gracious did I have a good time. This is the third production from Farley and his Motern Media crew I've reviewed (they've put out something new every three years) and like its predecessors, Riverbeast is clean lively fun. I suppose it's a "horror" movie (as noted by the ingenious replica '80 style video store HORROR sticker on the disc cover), but don't be fooled: This film is less interested in making you squirm more determined to deliver an oddly hilarious comedic experience which isn't easily classified.
I'm still having trouble properly describing the tone of the film . There is goofiness aplenty (e.g. extended discussions about the particulars of tutoring fame, the lucrative partnership between a street musician and a dancing vagabond, that dopey Riverbeast himself), and yet it's presented in such a dry earnest manner, the comic feel is less contrived and self-aware and more organically rooted. The world the Riverbeast inhabits is a version of our world, just a few degrees off.
All that to say I found Don't Let the Riverbeast Get You! hugely enjoyable and laugh-out-loud funny in more than a few places. Granted the acting skills on display are fairly limited and the creature effects won't snag any Saturn awards, but who cares? These guys (and girls) are coming at their project from such an authentic place, it's obvious they love making movies and seek only to entertain. This heartfelt approach is reflected in the complete absence of too-cool-for-school cynicism, as well as any hint of profanity or debauchery. The most provocative it gets is a dribble of blood coming from some guy's mouth. Also a couple of girls show up in towels.
If you're looking for authentic B-movie homage filmmaking, minus winking douchebaggery and cynical Hollywood contrivances, I offer Don't Let the Riverbeast Get You! with the heartiest of recommendations. This is the sort of indie cinema you can get behind without feeling like a preening hipster.
Solid DVD, highlighted by a slick standard def 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, Dolby 2.0 Stereo track, and a handful of bonus features: a brief behind-the-scenes featurette, commentary, bloopers, and the Riverbeast music video.
Not Guilty. Manch Vegas represent.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Music Video
* Official Site