Oren Peli’s new show like ‘Paranormal Activity,’ but a river runs through it

I finally got a chance to catch up with “The River,” and it actually surprised me. It’s not as good as “The Walking Dead” or “American Horror Story,” but it’ll do for some good entertainment.

Backed by Steven Spielberg, “Paranormal Activity” producer Oren Peli brought his handheld vision to a family drama centered around a missing nature-show host and the family that believes he might be alive. So they take off to the Amazon to find him and find some creepy crap.

Fans of “Paranormal Activity” will recognize Peli’s habits. There’s cameras everywhere, but even the mounted ones shake like the San Andreas Fault. The cameras always point to where the monster was, not is. There’s the standard time-lapse sequences, where Peli speeds up to show something creepy happening for a long time. But all of this happens at an unnaturally fast pace — to the point where there’s not enough time for Peli to build the suspense that highlights his movie forays.

The premise is clever and the characters aren’t terrible — in fact, they grew on me in the second episode. There’s also some good creep-out moments (a forest of hanging dolls? Jibblies) and some compelling instances that are signs of the show’s mythology and big picture. I’ll watch, but because the ratings weren’t that great, I have a feeling I won’t be watching more than a season’s worth.

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