Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Black Rock

Nifty little genre gem with its share of surprises has three damsel campers in distress on an isolated island they didn’t know they’d be sharing with three hunters back from overseas battle and with too much fight left in them.

May 16, 2013

-By Doris Toumarkine


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1377448-Black_Rock_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Shucking interfering annoyances like vampires, other paranormal nonsense and tired gimmicks, Black Rock is a thriller riff that gets down to basics while getting the job of entertainment done very well. Its pedigree suggests such above-par results: The film is pretty much a family affair. (Writer Mark Duplass, a certified indie star and director, wrote the script for his filmmaker wife Katie Aselton, who directs and co-stars, and he and filmmaker brother Jay Duplass executive produced).) Whether indie or thriller fans will comprise the most traffic, the film should notch respectable business with both.

The genre-ready story begins with a short getaway from the Maine mainland to a small, isolated island that had been a retreat for childhood friends, now 20-somethings. Sarah (Kate Bosworth) is the most grounded, that familiar leader and mediator found in every clique; Abby (Katie Aselton), the one who also looks like she got everything right except for the grudge she holds and hides against Lou (Lake Bell), the least stable of the trio. One of these femme pals will be the instigator for what goes very wrong.

Sarah, in an attempt to reconcile her two friends so they get past Lou’s indiscretion that Abby won’t let go of, masterminds this camping trip to the nearby island they loved as kids as a way to restore the friendship that once bound them.

Once there and to their surprise (and worse to come), they run into three hunters—soldiers back from overseas—scouting the island known as Black Rock for prey. There’s macho Henry (Will Bouvier); Derek (Jay Paulson), a traumatized vet who’s been dishonorably discharged, and Alex (Anslem Richardson), who seems the best bet of the lot.

Audiences may get a whiff of trouble ahead, but not the women. They share a campfire with the guys, who talk about their recent return from the Iraq/Afghanistan mess. And the group also swaps anecdotes about their school connections back on the mainland. One of the women, drinking a bit too much, gets overly flirty with Henry, who is soon chasing her with his flashlight into the woods. He catches her, becomes aggressive and she resists. But he’s been in combat and away from girls too long, so the inevitable happens, with deadly results. The three women flee the campsite area, accidentally separating in the process, while the men go hunting for bigger game than initially intended. Before darkness finally affords the women an opportunity to find their boat (but will they?), blood flows and a showdown becomes unavoidable.

Deceptively formulaic as a genre piece, Black Rock—intelligent, real and often surprising—commands our attention and respect. Best of all, it entertains. Nature-drenched and natural, the sharp and convincingly delivered dialogue often overlaps, as in real conversations. Initial mood-busting music finally settles down to let suspense elements build. The locale, with its piney woods, Northeast foliage colors and lush ground cover when rocky protuberances don’t interfere, is special but not so distracting that it interferes with the front-and-center nastiness going on.



Film Review: Black Rock

Nifty little genre gem with its share of surprises has three damsel campers in distress on an isolated island they didn’t know they’d be sharing with three hunters back from overseas battle and with too much fight left in them.

May 16, 2013

-By Doris Toumarkine


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1377448-Black_Rock_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Shucking interfering annoyances like vampires, other paranormal nonsense and tired gimmicks, Black Rock is a thriller riff that gets down to basics while getting the job of entertainment done very well. Its pedigree suggests such above-par results: The film is pretty much a family affair. (Writer Mark Duplass, a certified indie star and director, wrote the script for his filmmaker wife Katie Aselton, who directs and co-stars, and he and filmmaker brother Jay Duplass executive produced).) Whether indie or thriller fans will comprise the most traffic, the film should notch respectable business with both.

The genre-ready story begins with a short getaway from the Maine mainland to a small, isolated island that had been a retreat for childhood friends, now 20-somethings. Sarah (Kate Bosworth) is the most grounded, that familiar leader and mediator found in every clique; Abby (Katie Aselton), the one who also looks like she got everything right except for the grudge she holds and hides against Lou (Lake Bell), the least stable of the trio. One of these femme pals will be the instigator for what goes very wrong.

Sarah, in an attempt to reconcile her two friends so they get past Lou’s indiscretion that Abby won’t let go of, masterminds this camping trip to the nearby island they loved as kids as a way to restore the friendship that once bound them.

Once there and to their surprise (and worse to come), they run into three hunters—soldiers back from overseas—scouting the island known as Black Rock for prey. There’s macho Henry (Will Bouvier); Derek (Jay Paulson), a traumatized vet who’s been dishonorably discharged, and Alex (Anslem Richardson), who seems the best bet of the lot.

Audiences may get a whiff of trouble ahead, but not the women. They share a campfire with the guys, who talk about their recent return from the Iraq/Afghanistan mess. And the group also swaps anecdotes about their school connections back on the mainland. One of the women, drinking a bit too much, gets overly flirty with Henry, who is soon chasing her with his flashlight into the woods. He catches her, becomes aggressive and she resists. But he’s been in combat and away from girls too long, so the inevitable happens, with deadly results. The three women flee the campsite area, accidentally separating in the process, while the men go hunting for bigger game than initially intended. Before darkness finally affords the women an opportunity to find their boat (but will they?), blood flows and a showdown becomes unavoidable.

Deceptively formulaic as a genre piece, Black Rock—intelligent, real and often surprising—commands our attention and respect. Best of all, it entertains. Nature-drenched and natural, the sharp and convincingly delivered dialogue often overlaps, as in real conversations. Initial mood-busting music finally settles down to let suspense elements build. The locale, with its piney woods, Northeast foliage colors and lush ground cover when rocky protuberances don’t interfere, is special but not so distracting that it interferes with the front-and-center nastiness going on.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Small Time
Film Review: Small Time

You might not buy a used car from the guys in Small Time, but you will enjoy the movie about their exploits, even their exploitations (of others). More »

Fading Gigolo
Film Review: Fading Gigolo

Some top screen talent gets lost in the silliness surrounding the amorous adventures of an unlikely gigolo and his even more unlikely pimp, with writer/director/actor John Turturro the shtupper “ho” co-starring with Woody Allen as the mercenary shtup-enabler. Yarmulkes off to Turturro’s brave but deeply ill-conceived comedic foray into Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidic community and other alien territory. More »

A Promise
Film Review: A Promise

Handsomely filmed but wan period romance. More »

Final Member
Film Review: The Final Member

Breezy documentary about the aging owner of a small Icelandic museum dedicated to penises and his quest for one last, coveted exhibit is a charmer, thanks to the warmth and sly sense of humor the protagonist brings to his unusual hobby. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Transcendence
Film Review: Transcendence

Johnny Depp is an idealistic researcher whose consciousness is uploaded into an artificial intelligence in this slick techno-thriller with delusions of seriousness from Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer. More »

Draft Day
Film Review: Draft Day

Pro football manager faces crises on the most important day of his career in a well-tooled vehicle for Kevin Costner. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here