THE RIVER WILD (2023) on Netflix is a new thriller that takes place on a river and ultimately leads to many deaths. A really solid thriller starring Leighton Meester and Adam Brody. Some call it a reboot, but it doesn’t feel that way. Read our full The River Wild movie review here!

THE RIVER WILD (2023) is a new Netflix thriller with a small cast and a well-written story that keeps the tension and pace throughout. With a runtime around the sweet spot of one and a half hours, it does exactly what it needs to.

When reading the plot, you know going into this that someone will be the bad guy and that others will struggle to make it. And yes, this movie does include several deaths. Ultimately, it’s very much about right and wrong, but also loyalty. And, even more so, misplaced loyalty. Some label this a reboot, but I can’t really see it. More on that later.

Continue reading our The River Wild movie review below. Find it on Netflix in the US from August 1, 2023.

A solid thriller

There’s a very small cast in The River Wild and it works really well. Leighton Meester and Taran Killam portray siblings who are living very different lives and have a tense relationship, but they clearly care for each other. Adam Brody (who is married to Leighton Meester in real life) plays a childhood friend of the brother.

The three are heading out on a white-water river rafting trip with the two friends, played by Olivia Swann and Eve Connolly, and everything is off to a good start. We get to know the characters and see how they interact with one another.

However, already on the first night, things go terribly wrong and it escalates very quickly from there. Not in a wildly unrealistic way, but in an organic and natural escalation that makes the story work surprisingly well as a whole.

The River Wild (2023) – Review | Thriller on Netflix

Is THE RIVER WILD 2023 a remake?

The River Wild (which is titled simply River Wild in some locations) is called a reboot of the classic 1994 movie starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon. That one was directed by Curtis Hanson and written by Denis O’Neill. However, having seen them both, I think that’s going a bit too far.

Sure, it takes place on a river and a killer is actively murdering people and keeping others hostage. The overall story, however, is quite different. Not least in terms of family relationships and the ages of the characters.


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However, if that’s all it takes for something to be a reboot, then any movie with a masked killer that takes place on Halloween could be a Halloween reboot.

Or you could call virtually any new zombie movie a reboot of a famous zombie movie. The South Korean #Alive could be a reboot of the French The Night Eats the World as both take place mostly inside an apartment building during a zombie apocalypse.

To be fair, it’s called “a new story that resides in the universe of the original” so it’s also referred to as a “reimagining”. The thing is, The River Wild in this 2023 version doesn’t need to be a reboot of anything. It’s strong enough on its own.

Watch The River Wild (2023) on Netflix now!

The 2023 movie The River Wild is directed by Ben Ketai and makes its SVOD [Subscription Video on Demand] on Netflix. It will be available on the streaming platform for three years, so you should be able to find it there until August 2026.

We know this because the movie is part of an output deal between Netflix and Universal Pictures. To be exact, it’s Universal 1440 Entertainment which is their direct-to-video division which is a lower-budget department. However, there is nothing about this new movie that feels low-budget.

I didn’t expect much from the movie, but I was very entertained. Especially as the characters often spoke up and said exactly what I was thinking. You know that moment when you think someone is doing something irrational and another character speaks up?! I love that, and feel like filmmakers can save entire plotlines when it’s utilized correctly.

Give it a chance and enjoy!

The River Wild (2023) is out on Netflix (and on SVOD) in the US from August 1, 2023.


Director: Ben Ketai
Screenwriters: Ben Ketai, Mike Le
Cast: Leighton Meester, Adam Brody, Taran Killam, Olivia Swann, Eve Connolly


While on a whitewater adventure, a family encounters a group of dangerous fugitives — forcing them to brave the treacherous rapids in order to escape.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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