Matt Farley and Charles Roxburgh, makers of Freaky Farley, a personal favorite of mine, are back with another independent horror-comedy that keeps their signature blend of ultra-low budget cheese fully intact. I’ve become a big fan of these guys since seeing their films, as they bring a fun spirited approach to their filmmaking. Their movies typically feature small New England towns, zany characters, and monsters…what more could you ask for?
Don’t Let the Riverbeast Get You kept up with my expectations, but also stepped it up a notch. The first thing I noticed was the filming style actually felt refined and overall seemed improved compared to their previous efforts. The camera itself seemed to have been upgraded, but also the different techniques and styles used were noticeably different. Though their films are known for their low-grade film feel, the improvements in Riverbeast were very much welcomed and offered more to be appreciated and even cause the film to be taken a bit more seriously.
The story of Riverbeast follows Neil Stuart (Matt Farley), famed tutor turned laughing stock after being exiled as a result of his claims of seeing the notorious Riverbeast of Anytown, USA. Neil returns to the town with determination to win back his lost love, Emmaline (Elizabeth Peterson). To do so, he must clear his name by proving the existence of the Riverbeast. Facing a dirty reporter, town critics and bullies, the pressure is on to expose the truth. He also must race against the ill-will of the beast himself, who begins picking off the townspeople as they venture into the forest.
Meanwhile, Neil also strives to reclaim his position as the world’s best tutor by taking on new students. He starts with Allie (Sharon Scalzo), a free-spirited girl who seems more interested in helping Neil win back Emmaline than her studies. Allie’s encouragement is just what Neil needs to get his life back. He’s also got his best friend Teddy (Tom Scalzo) in his corner, along with his other tutor buddies. But is it enough to defeat the almighty and very hungry Riverbeast? Can the help of even the famous big-game hunter Ito Hootkins be enough to face the evil aquatic monster?
The story is wild and laughable enough to keep this movie going, but the acting is what really drives it home. Someone not introduced to the works of Roxburgh and Farley would likely first notice the acting, which is characterized by the actors being very narrative and overly descriptive and their emotions not matching up with the scenario. This is all mostly intentional however, to add to the comedic effect. Paired with the low-budget obvious guy-in-a-suit Riverbeast costume there is a lot of campy fun to appreciate.
I knew I was in for a good time with this film and I was not let down. It’s very clear when watching a film such as this, that all involved had a fun time and the ultimate goal was to make an entertaining film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s this spirit of filmmaking that I really enjoy and appreciate, as it’s a nice change of pace and a reminder that the movies should be fun and don’t have to be reliant on big-budgets and eye candy to be entertaining. Riverbeast is a fine example of combining a quirky sense of humor and creativity to create a highly entertaining flick that nods to the low-budget flicks of yesteryear while adding a modern fun and unique spin.