Black Rock shouldn’t really be good – and if the truth be told – it’s not. However, that doesn’t stop it from being an entertaining female take on Deliverance. Or something like that.
The set-up has been done a dozen times before. A group of friends ( Katie Aselton, Lake Bell, and Kate Bosworth) go on a camping trip to the island where they used to spend their teenage summers. The three ladies in question bump into a trio of hunters (Will Bouvier, Jay Paulson and Anslem Richardson) and a night of campfire fun ends in tragedy. One of the hunters is accidentally killed, but rather than do the sensible thing and call the police, the two remaining men decide to hunt down and kill our heroines.
Katie Aselton pulls double-duty as director and star, working from a script by husband Mark Duplass. She does an okay job in both cases, but it somehow feels like she may have been better to focus her attention on just one task. The rest of the cast also acquit themselves well, but everything about the film feels like a group of friends making a home movie. You could argue that it has to do with its art house roots (it premiered at the Sundance Festival) – but I just don’t buy it.
Black Rock’s tone is oddly uneven, with the first third playing like a comedy, before the thriller aspect kicks in. There are enough thrills to keep you entertained, but it doesn’t quite reach the levels of the genre touchstones like Deliverance or Southern Comfort (not that I think it tries). It’s admirable that the lead characters are women, but it doesn’t seem very plausible that a few untrained ladies could put up such a fight against three former soldiers.
It may seem like I’m being harsh on Black Rock – I’m not. It’s a decent enough little time-passer that skips along for its 80 minute running time. I wouldn’t recommend that you run out and buy it – but I’ve seen films much less entertaining.
Nothing but a lonely little trailer.