10th Jul2014

‘Across the River’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Renzo Gariup, Marco Marchese, Lidia Zabrieszach | Written by Lorenzo Bianchini, Michela Bianchini | Directed by Lorenzo Bianchini


While working in a remote woods, wildlife researcher Marco Contrada’s studies lead him to an abandoned village deep in the Italian countryside where he becomes trapped due to flooding. His presence in the village unleashes a horrifying evil. This ancient curse would like nothing better than Marco’s guts lying in a pool of blood at his feet… but only once it’s had its terrifying fun.

Well that’s the official synopsis. My synopsis?

Wildlife researcher spends the majority of the movie tagging wildlife, setting up cameras, recording and reviewing data, and generally having a bit of a wander around the forest. Then some scary shit happens – the usual dead animals, weird noises etc., plus a bit of found-footage from Marco’s cameras – all scored by some of the creepiest music this side of an Argento movie.

Oh and did I mention it’s scary?

REALLY fucking scary. The type of scary movie that made me want to press stop on the DVD, made me want to cover my eyes in fear, the type of movie that, not since my earliest forays into the genre as a teenager and in particular the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, actually gave me nightmares!

If I’m honest, on paper Across the River, at first glance, could be construed as a little boring. And it is. Sort of.

It’s obvious that director Lorenzo Bianchini has purposefully – some might say methodically – paced Across the River as slow as possible but the slow pace both works for and against the movie. On the one hand the slow pace, accompanied by a lack of dialogue and/or human interaction (for most of the movie this is a one-man show, following Marco as he goes about his work, all alone) means you’ll be begging for something, anything to happen to bring even a modicum of excitement to proceedings. But…

On the other hand, the deliberate slow pace, and the superb sound design (both the score and the sound effects are some of the best I’ve heard in a long time), really amp up the fear factor. It’s like Bianchini has gone back to the “old school” horror days when atmosphere was king – the terrifying sound design is reminiscent of the likes of 1963’s The Haunting – so much so that when things do begin to happen, even I, as a long-standing horror fan, afraid of very little in horror cinema these days, even started to feel my skin crawl and I’d even go as far as saying a little fear set in! I can honestly say I’ve NEVER, and I do mean never, been quite so terrified of an instance of found footage in a movie EVER. Not even the grand-daddy of found-footage, The Blair Witch Project, had me this bloody scared.

By the time the film ends, what started out as a slow, mundane, straight to DVD horror film had become, at least for me, a terrifying masterpiece of the genre that should be seen by every so-called horror fan out there. With Across the River, Lorenzo Bianchini has succeeded where many of his peers have failed – finally putting the “fear” back into the fear-flick!

***** 5/5

Across the River is released on DVD on July 14th from Monster Pictures. Buy it.

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  • Nerdly » ‘Apocalyptic’ DVD Review says:

    […] me wrong. There are some great movies being made in the found footage format. The recently-released Across the River being a superb example, Willow Creek another. But by and large the format is home to some of the […]