Sunday, August 11, 2013

Review 197: "Black Rock"

Not every island is a paradise.

Spoiler Warning

The Island of Lost Dreams

      Ah, yes, we are diving back into the indie scene of 2013 and we are tackling a film released this past May. It was a Video-on-Demand release, so we know it must be good. This film might have passed people by and I was interested in why that was. The actors were pretty well known, it had an intriguing horror premise and it references The Goonies. All hallmarks of a blockbuster. And then I saw the movie and I realized why no one saw it. Directed by Katie Aselton (The Freebie) and written by Mark Duplass (Jeff, Who Lives at Home) and follows Abby (Kate Aselton), Lou (Lake Bell) and Sarah (Kate Bosworth), three friends who journey back to Black Rock, their childhood camping site. However, the trip takes a turn for the worse when three former soldiers (Will Bouvier, Jay Paulson, Anslem Richardson) begin to hunt the women across the island.

She's upset because she used to be Lois Lane.
Bad Day at Black Rock

      The unfortunate thing about Black Rock is just how generic and cliched it turns out to be. The film has some pretty lofty ambitions. Unfortunately, the cast and crew just don't seem to have been the right choices for the story. Black Rock's story is not just a group of killers on an island. What starts off the story is a pretty gutsy depiction of rape when one of the soldiers attacks one of the women and the film shows that women have the right to say no and defend themselves when the woman kills her attacker in self-defense, which is a good message. It also seems to be setting up an interesting motivation for the villains, with them blaming the girls because the rapist was a war hero and they can't believe that he would do such a thing. However, there is no such story. Instead, the villains are just the generic, unspecified mental illness war veterans that movies pull out too often, usually just to seem topical. And that's Black Rock's biggest problem.
Friday the 17th

      The film feels like it was made just so the filmmakers can say that they did a dark drama. The film is essentially a fancied-up Friday the 13th film. The characters are only given the most basic of characterization and what's there is the regular stuff. One character stole and other character's boyfriend. One makes dark jokes. And on top of that, their characterization changes if the film needs them to be something else to move the story forward. One character, who is set up as the most clear headed and voice of reason suddenly freaks out and gets herself killed, even though she was just talking about staying calm. And naturally, her character is never discussed again. The film feels like it's just checking off a list of dark horror movie cliches. Does a character beat up someone helpless? Check. Do the victims rise up and fight back? Check. Does someone suffer a horrible, gross-out injury. Check. The film is just never consistent and as a result, much of the story is just a lazy mess.

Pictured: Someone who really can't act.
The Verdict

      Black Rock is just simply a bad movie. Despite attempting some heavy material and minorly succeeding, the film struggle under the weight of it's own darkness. The film is bleak and unpleasant, thanks mostly to the fact the it feels like so little care went into making it. Characters change personality, logic gets thrown out the window and the film just feels like it's trying to be dark for darkness's sake. It thinks it might be more than a Friday the 13th film. But really, you should just watch Friday the 13th. It's more fun, more entertaining and less pretentious. Black Rock gets 2 stars out of 6. 

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