Living in an RV up in the mountains, an ethnologist is going through his daily routine of checking footage off of cameras set up in the woods, reviewing the footage, doing check ups on the animals around. One say he stumbles upon something floating in a river - a white dress. Between this and an injured pig he begins to investigate around the river, and finds a village in ruins. He has to wait out the rain in this village, but the past is catching up with the place.
"Across the River" comes from Italy with a bang - not a hard, angry bang but with a creepy one on the wall in the middle of the night when you are alone. The movie looks beyond some of the top titles on Italian horror and works on a much more subtle and primitive level. It's a joy, personally, to see something like this from Italy as I often stumble upon movies that want to walk, talk and look like Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, etc. "Across the River" is no such movie - there's no stunt here, it's all just a slow, creepy atmospheric horror movie.
It takes place up in the mountains where an ethnologist is going through footage of the night life in the wilderness, collecting data and performing tests on the wild life. A typical night's footage shows deer eating, pigs walking about, etc. One day the ethnologist finds some strange things and begins to investigate the area. He ends up in an old village, all in ruins, where a past is revealing itself. Slowly it's creeping up on him.
I'd absolutely call "Across the River" a horror movie, though the horror isn't really even there. It has mystery, suspense, supernatural elements and all that but probably relying too much on atmosphere and brief sequences for the general public to call it horror. But I doubt anyone disagrees that the movie has some insanely creepy moments, and what are those if not horror? If you go into this expecting a James Wan ghost movie, then yeah that's not what you're getting, though perhaps they are taking notes from the same sort of movies. The older, really slow and actually scary movies that keep you on your toes - where they knew that less is more. Had I watched this movie growing up, it'd be sending chills up my spine.
The movie does have a few things that work against it. Being so slow, at around 90 minutes long it does get a bit tiring. Even though the atmosphere stays intense, there's a point where you get distracted due to the similar tone through-out. This is one thing that stands out with the movie, but also one that will work against it.
I am really fascinated by the mature take on the genre here though. The filmmakers had the balls to make a ghastly horror movie and not sell out by the end - there's no big demon reveal, no CGI mouths expanding, etc. It has a few sightings, but these are brief and intense. Most of all, I am glad that this Italian horror movie didn't try to act like Dario Argento or Lucio Fulci. I know the country produces horror that isn't like that, but as a reviewer I stumble upon a ton of them. "Across the River" is one of the creepiest Italian horror movies I have seen in years.