Thursday, October 03, 2013

Black Rock

(2012) **1/2

Not a bad little entry into the chase-horror genre, Black Rock is about a group of 3 old friends who go camping on a deserted island (I guess in Maine?) and end up getting stalked by a group of dishonorably discharged Iraq War vets. You'd think that would give the plot some politically charged undertones, but really, it ends up being mostly irrelevant.

The three friends are Kate Bosworth and two other actresses I sort of recognize (one, Katie Aselton, is also the director and came up with the story). Their performances collectively are probably one of main strengths of the film--they have a nice old-friend type chemistry, even if the Aselton character is pretty annoying most of the time.

I actually went to bed last night thinking I'd give this 3 full stars, but as I thought about it on my commute, some things started bugging me, and I realized this is solidly in the mediocre range.

One problem is that Aselton spends more time setting up the girls' camping weekend than on the actual terror of getting chased around the island. When that finally comes, it doesn't really last very long, and nothing particularly clever happens. I guess that's kind of refreshing--the girls don't go all Rambo. There's no silly Hollywood set piece over-the-top deaths. It all has a credible, naturalist feel. Which is fine, but it's really quick. (This might be a mark in its favor, for thonners trying to pad stats, I concede).

The other, bigger, problem, is that the villains are too stupid to really worry too much about. To be fair, they act pretty much like I'd expect a pack of dishonorably discharged Iraq War vets to act--not real bright and not real talkative. But it tends to take away from their menace.

I did like the setting of a small northern New England island with all those pines and lobster boats--it felt suitably isolated and had good potential. I'm not sure I really buy that these girls ever would have gone camping there by themselves when they were ten, or that they'd now return as 30 year olds for a girls weekend, but...well, I sorta bought it. It was cool that they didn't write any of them as cliches. None of them were badass outdoorsy babes or prissy city girls complaining about sand in their underwear.


JPX said...

Another "Black" movie to add to the list:

The Black Cat (1941)
Black Christmas (1974)
Black Christmas (2006)
Black Sabbath (1961)
Black Sheep (2007)
Black Swan (2010)
Black Sunday (1960
Blacula (1972)

Great review and I agree with your rating based on what you said - I like that you are thinking about Horrorthon ratings on your way to work!

The film sounds like it has a nice set-up with little pay-off.

Landshark said...

Wow, horror films are so racist.

DCD said...

That made me laugh, Landshark!

For the positives you listed it's too bad this one didn't deliver more.

Catfreeek said...

Nice review but doesn't sound much like my kind if flick. The one annoying female is enough to turn me away.

Crystal Math said...

A fair balance of gore and character development necessitates good screenwriting. It seems like Black Rock fell short of its potential, but that's not surprising during Horrorthon season.

Octopunk said...

The necessity of character development is what continually bothers me about giant monster movies. I do like Kate Bosworth but I will probably skip this one. Solid analysis, LS.

50PageMcGee said...

by the end of the first paragraph, this movie sounded to me like severance, but someone decided to leave the fun at home.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

I think this would be up my alley. I'm a huge fan of humans getting hunted for sport movies. I suspect it's not as satisfying as Surviving the Game or Hard Target though.

AC said...

it would need to be either a lot better or a lot worse to tempt me, but good review!