The River King (2005)

R  |   |  Drama, Mystery, Thriller  |  21 October 2005 (Canada)
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Abel Grey is sent to investigate the death of a boy from an exclusive local school, who is found floating in the river. Fearing scandal, the school insists it was suicide. But after ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Thomas Gibson ...
Harry McKenna (as Jamie King)
Bruce Murphy ...
Young Abel (as David Maclean)
Ross Petty ...
David Christoffel ...
Matt Farris
Richard Fitzpatrick ...
Police Chief
Karl Pruner ...
Walter Pierce
Nathaniel Gibb
Jeff A. Wright ...
Robbie (as Jeff Wright)


Abel Grey is sent to investigate the death of a boy from an exclusive local school, who is found floating in the river. Fearing scandal, the school insists it was suicide. But after discovering from the boy's girlfriend, Carlin, that he was being badly bullied, Abel suspects that a dangerous schoolboy initiation has gone horribly wrong and he secretly solicits the help of a sympathetic teacher, Betsy. He is warned off the investigation by his boss, as the school is a generous benefactor to the Police benevolent fund. Abel, however, cannot let the case go, not only because his own brother committed suicide years before, but also it seems that the spirit of the dead boy is leaving them clues as to what really happened that night. Written by CaptainStigmata

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


It's the truth that haunts us

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some violent images | See all certifications »





Release Date:

21 October 2005 (Canada)  »

Also Known As:

Bajo el hielo  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$16,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


At the end of the film, Abel's father, Ernest, recalls how Abel's brother had hugged him the day that he committed suicide. Ernest then remarks that he found it strange because it wasn't Frank's way. This dialogue is taken directly from a scene where Abel is talking to his mother rather than his father. See more »


The scene where Abel and Joey are driving in town and Joey honks the police car horn at Doreen Barker has numerous continuity errors. There are four camera angles: one angle is from the hood of the police car looking down the street, the second angle is from the hood of the police car and shows Abel and Joey up close, and the third and fourth angles are wide angles showing the police car and the entire street. The most noticeable errors are as follows: The number of cars following the police car and the distance between them and the police car changes from angle to angle; The make and model cars shown driving in the opposite direction before and after passing the police car change from angle to angle; Just before Joey honks the horn at Doreen you see two women walking down the street. The first woman, presumably Doreen, is walking on the sidewalk towards the police car and is wearing a blue hat without a purse over her shoulder. As Joey honks the horn he turns his head as if to look back at Doreen yet the very next camera angle shows Doreen wearing a white hat, red scarf, and different color blue jeans with a purse on her shoulder. She is also now walking in the opposite direction of the police car which has not yet passed her. As the police car passes Doreen you can clearly see that Joey is no longer riding in the police car. See more »


[first lines]
Joey Tosh: Get in there!
See more »


Referenced in Be Kind Rewind (2008) See more »


Hard Time For The Dreamer
Written by Paul Statham & Shelly McErlaine
Performed by Shelly McErlaine
Published by Stage Three Music Publishing Ltd. and Warner/Chappell Music Ltd.
Licensed courtesy of Totally Underwater Productions
See more »

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User Reviews

The Mystery : Finding the Multiple Stories and Making Them Relate
12 February 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

THE RIVER KING is a high profile film that went directly to DVD without the benefit of a theater run. It is anyone's guess why a film of this quality should not make it commercially while there are so many less well-made movies that linger on the screens for weeks or months. The film is well acted, well directed, beautifully photographed and well scored.

The possible reason for its lack of attention may have been due to some test screenings where the audience was asked to evaluate. Despite all of the fine points of the film the problem lies in the screen adaptation by David Kane of the haunting novel by Alice Hoffman. Too many loose ends do not a story make and in the final analysis it is difficult to converse with someone who has not seen the film just what it is about.

Ostensibly, THE RIVER KING is about a private prep school out in the snowy fields of somewhere, a place where secret societies still haze, faculty are still under the control of the school's funders, and appearances are far more important than truths. Abel (Edward Burns) is called in to investigate the found drowned body of a student, and with his partner (John Kapelos) the two detectives suspect foul play - suicide, murder, hazing. Their investigation includes questioning the victim's only friend Carlin (Rachelle Lefevre) and one photography and English Lit teacher Betsy (Jennifer Ehle). But as the investigation proceeds, Abel has flashbacks to his childhood memories of his own older brother's suicide, dark secrets that have haunted him, and it is this psychic matrix which serves as the canvas for him to resolve the case as well as to relate to the various characters within the confines of the prep school.

Many of the questions raised by the narrative remain unanswered by this frustrating script, but the actors bring as much involvement and credibility as they are able to create a film of mystery and self-realization in the snow and ice of the fields around the school. For those who wish more, reading Hoffman's novel will be more satisfying. Grady Harp

41 of 47 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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