The Dead River is a CGSP film written, directed, and edited by Cosmo and starring Cosmo, Jordan, Steve, and Brian. Taking place during the opening minutes of a zombie outbreak, the film follows four survivors as they attempt to escape while recording the event with a handheld camera.
The film is notable for being the first canon horror film, the first canon film in black and white, and the second longest canon film. The Battle of White Hill is the longest by only 4 seconds.
The Dead River, like many old CGSP films, was almost completely improvised. However, this was not the original intention. The Dead River was shot as the final for Cosmo's senior Advanced Film Production class. The original script for this project was actually a Wanderer sequel entitled Wanderer 2: The Dead River. The plot was somewhat similar, involving Cole, Conrad and Lars finding a group of surivivors in a river and defending them from mutants. However, on the day of shooting, the actor who was to play Cole was unable to make it and thus Wanderer 2 could not be filmed. Instead, Cosmo, Jordan, Steve and Evan (later Brian) improvised the zombie plot taking inspiration from the original script, from 'handheld horror' films such as Cloverfield, and classic zombie movies.
Cosmo (who is holding the camera and provides sporadic narration of events as they unfold), Jordan, Steve, and Brian are preparing to film a class project about video game addiction. Jordan is playing Tetris while Brian taunts him about his addiction. Steve suddenly interuppts, informing them that a zombie outbreak has occured in Massachusetts, according to the news. Almost immediately afterwards the group hears loud moaning at the door. Upon investigation they discover several zombies attempting to claw their way in. With no time to spare, the group escapes through the back door of Steve's house and flees into the woods.
Upon entering the woods the group realizes they forgot to grab food. Fortunately Steve took the emergency supply bag from his dad's room. After crossing the muddy river to a small clearing, they open the bag to discover it contains a shotgun and a pistol. Jordan is excited, but Cosmo is worried about using the weapons. Suddenly two zombies appear from the woods. Brian and Jordan kill the zombies using the guns, but in the ensuing struggle Brian is bitten on the leg.
Afterwards, Jordan takes Brian aside to have a discussion with him. Cosmo doesn't trust Jordan and follows them, where he witnesses Jordan killing Brian with the shotgun. Cosmo runs back to tell Steve, but before he can explain Jordan reappears. After a brief talk he tries to kill Steve with the shotgun, but Steve kills Jordan first with the pistol.
After walking for some time, Steve and Cosmo come across Steve's backyard, which is now full of zombies, and realize they have walked in a giant loop. Realizing the hopelessness of his situation, Steve commits suicide with the pistol. Enraged, Cosmo takes the pistol and begins wildly shooting at the zombies, killing several before finally running out of ammo. The final shot of the film is Cosmo being dragged down by zombies as he screams in agony and the camera flickers.
When screened for Cosmo's Film class, Dead River received positive reactions. Cosmo was awarded an A for the project. The Dead River was uploaded to YouTube on September 17th, 2010.
- During the scene where the characters are discussing their food situation, Cosmo says "I'm so getting an A on this project." He did.
- The loud sound heard near the end of the opening scene is Cosmo hitting Steve's sliding glass door. This was a signal to the zombies to head around the front.
- Jordan smokes only one cigar throughout the course of the film.
- Like The Battle of White Hill, The Dead River is unscripted, filmed with a handheld camera, and is 12 minutes long.