“River Wild” is a “reimagining” of a cult film from 1994

River Wild has been making some unexpected waves since it hit Netflix in the US, with fans wondering if the chilling thriller was based on a true story.

The film, which shares its title with 1994’s The River Wild, landed on Netflix as part of a direct-to-home video release on Aug. 1 and quickly became one of the streaming service’s most-watched movies.

River Wild storyline preview

2023’s River Wild, starring Leighton Meester, Taran Killam and Adam Brody, tells the story of estranged siblings Gary and Joey Reese who take two tourists on a whitewater rafting trip.

But the fun outing immediately takes on a more tense undertone when Trevor, her childhood friend with a troubled past, joins the group.

When the gang get stranded in the raging rapids, the trip quickly turns from an exciting roller coaster ride into a nightmare as it turns out that someone in the group is intent on sabotaging them.

If Joey has any hope of making it out alive from the increasingly dangerous situation, she must muster all her resolve to avoid being torn apart by the deception aboard the Raft or by the deadly waters that offer the only path to safety.

Leighton Meester as Joey Reese looks worried in River Wild
© Universal Pictures | youtube

Is River Wild based on a true story?

No, fortunately “River Wild” and its story of murdered tourists are not based on a true story.

Instead, it’s inspired by the 1994 film The River Wild, which itself is also a fictional story.

The original film, starring Meryl Streep, David Strathairn and Kevin Bacon, has a rather unusual source of inspiration.

Accordingly The Washington PostThe River Wild screenwriter Denis O’Neill based the film on an article he wrote about fly fishing for a magazine called Fly, Rod & Wheel.

Exactly how a magazine article about fly-fishing inspired what appeared to be an independent thriller about whitewater rafting remains unclear to this day.

Adam Brody as Trevor putting a finger to his lips in River Wild
© Universal Pictures | youtube

How are the two films related?

The new River Wild has been described as a reinterpretation of the original 1994 film rather than a remake or reboot.

In announcing the film, Glenn Ross, general manager and executive vice president of Universal’s home release division, described the 2023 version meeting as “an exciting new The River Wild story” that “brings the universe to new audiences and fans of the original.”

Essentially, this means that River Wild serves as a standalone sequel to 1994’s The River Wild, focusing on a new cast of characters who are drawn into yet another whitewater rafting journey from hell.

River Wild from 2023 not only lost the “the” from the title, but also has several differences from the original.

Most notably, the original’s central couple, Gail and Tom Hartman, are a married couple, while in the new film, Joey and Gary are siblings.

Taran Killam as Gray Reese and Leighton Meester as Joey Reese stand side by side in River Wild
© Universal Pictures | youtube

River Wild is available for streaming on Netflix in the US.

The entry “River Wild” is a “reinterpretation” of a cult film from 1994 and first appeared on HITC.

Emma Bowman

Emma Bowman is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Emma Bowman joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with Emma Bowman by emailing EmmaBowman@ustimetoday.com.

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