Black Rock, 2012.
Directed by Katie Aselton.
Starring Katie Aselton, Lake Bell, Kate Bosworth, Will Bouvier, Jay Paulson, Anslem Richardson, and Carl K. Aselton III.
Three childhood friends set aside their personal issues and reunite for a girls’ weekend on a remote island off the coast of Maine. One wrong move turns their weekend getaway into a deadly fight for survival.
Scripting a film that more to do with Cast Away than comedy may seem a strange sidestep for Mark Duplass. Famed for his darker brand of indie comedies rather than a hard-hitting thriller, Duplass is certainly stretching himself.
Teaming with real-life partner Kate Aselton, who directs the film, Black Rock is the story of three old high-school friends (Bosworth, Bell and Aselton) trying to reconnect with each other after years apart. The brainchild of Sarah (Bosworth), she insists that the troupe truly reconnect with their pasts for a girl’s weekend, dragging them not to Vegas or some bars, but to their old hideout on the secluded coastal island, known as Black Rock.
Sparks fly and emotions run high between the ladies, with old relationships both good and bad, almost immediately resurface. Still, Sarah’s insistence wins out, and the girls grab themselves a boat and set off. But their reconnection lasts for only a few hours, as they are shortly interrupted by a group of men, utilizing the island for hunting reasons.
A few drinks, and an accidental death later, the girls become the hunted as the men turn on them, sending them head first into a real life cat-and-mouse game of survival, with no phone and no help coming.
Black Rock will certainly be received with a mixed reaction. The acting is excellent, across the board, with Lake Bell, already taking many accolades this year for her critical darling In A World…, the standout. Aselton and Bosworth both give solid support too. That said, the tone of the film, dark, violent and shocking is what makes the film as a whole a turn off. Aselton tries hard with the atmospheric approach to keep the suspense of the film going, but lack of true scares or shocks ultimately lets the film down.
Strangely, the film is at it’s most effective when the girls are in their more quiet moments, as typically for a Duplass script, the dialogue snaps and cackles at every turn, and is surprisingly funny in places. You wonder how Bell, Aselton and Bosworth would have faired in a more comedic setting that this one.
Interesting yet at times an uncomfortable watch, Black Rock is a true definition of a mixed bag. Shot well, acted excellently, yet ultimately falls flat with it’s story. It’s a shame we didn’t get the same talent in a more typical Mark Duplass effort.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★