BEYOND FRIGHT REVIEW: RIVER CITY PANIC

10983152_659697670808753_3654956681306976988_n

A few months ago, we featured a crowdfunding project called RIVER CITY PANIC from director Tyler Amm.  Not only did the film successfully reach its crowdfunding goal, but the film recently premiered theatrically on March 20th in Ottawa, IL in addition to its participation in the River City Film Fest on March 22nd.  Icons of Fright was fortunate enough to grab a look at the finished product, and RIVER CITY PANIC showcases everything good about the existence of crowd funding independent cinema.

RIVER CITY PANIC follows six friends that grew up, and still live in Ottawa, IL.  Marc, Doug, Darren, Kennedy, Richard, and Gary are a ragtag team of twenty-somethings that have remained friends long after high school has ended, but they’ve fallen into the townie mentality of post-grads in the sense that they don’t really do anything other than hang out together.  After choosing to break tradition (in lieu of hiding out in a basement and watching movies) and go out for dinner downtown, they soon realize that something strange is afoot in Ottawa, IL.  Social media accounts are exploding with reports, theories, and rumors about an impending disaster, but no one in town can agree on what is happening to Ottawa.  Believing the panic to be nothing more than an out of control rumor, Marc and his friends decide to continue on with their night like normal, despite the fact that every rumor/theory they’ve heard…is true.

tumblr_static_tumblr_static_c7xaeepzieos4kggko00c4go_640Director/Co-Writer Tyler Amm truly created something special with RIVER CITY PANIC, and his love of filmmaking drips from every single frame.  The film runs a little over an hour, but each minute is filled with heart, soul, humor, and creativity.  What stood out to me the most, is the pure honesty delivered from each person on screen.  Our group of friends are reminiscent of those in NIGHT OF THE COMET, in the sense that they’re all people we’ve grown up with.  RIVER CITY PANIC is a regional film in its truest sense, in that anyone that has grown up in the “not-Chicagoland” area of Illinois will see their lives reflected back at them.  Amm truly captured the romanticism of small town living, while still maintaining the defeatist attitude of “get me out of this place,” that so many small town residents seem to have.  Some of the actors are far stronger performers than others, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  In every group of friends, some of us know how to “work the crowd” better than others, and that’s what the friends of RIVER CITY PANIC are giving.

For an independently made project, Amm really gave us bang for our buck.  There’s a car crash, shoot out, parade, pep rally, grave robbing, riot, and some serious fire work.  For a low-budget venture, RIVER CITY PANIC really packs a serious punch.  The technical aspects are remarkably solid, with a few level issues in the sound mix being my only real critique.  The film also comes with an original score, one that feels inspired by the horror comedies of yesteryear mixed with the sound from the coolest garage band from your high school prom.  The music is well crafted, fitting to the story, and a lot of fun.

Glowing with the punk-rock attitude of “make your own damn movie,” that independent cinema needs, RIVER CITY PANIC can best be described as a Troma Movie without dick monsters.  Suck out the nudity, gore, and gratuity of Return to Nuke ‘Em High, and you’re left with something that feels a lot like RIVER CITY PANIC.  The humor is authentic, and the random one-liners illicit audible laughter, without ever feeling forced.  There are elements of horror littered throughout, but at the heart, this is a regional comedy through and through.  Tyler Amm reminds me of a younger version of Jeremy Gardner of THE BATTERY.  (It’s not just the beards, I swear.)  Filled with passion, a sharp wit, a fearless attitude towards his craft, and a genuine talent at film making, Tyler Amm is a director I look forward to seeing more from.

RIVER CITY PANIC is available on DVD and Blu-Ray by clicking HERE,
and is also available on VOD through Vimeo.
Leave A Comment