I believe that RV is not handling negative frames appropriately. It is playing the negative frames in reverse order.
I have sequence on disk from frame -10 to 10. The images are named a.#.exr with a 4 padded frame number. For example:
a.-0010.exr, a.-0001.exr, a.0000.exr, a.0001.exr, a.0010.exr
In a shell I type "rv a.#.exr". The RV timeline goes from -10 to 10, but the images are actually displayed -1 to -10, 0, 1 to 10 (this can be easily seen by showing the info strip). If I instead specify a range as in rv_manaul.pdf ("a.-10-10#.exr" or "a.-0010-0010#.exr"), then RV claims that all of the negative frames are missing files and loads frame 0 in their place.
note: this was tested with RV 3.8.4 on CentOS 5