Black Rock Review

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Score

Kate Bosworth and friends venture into the woods. All is not well. Shock, horror...

You’d think that characters in movies should have learned by now that going on a holiday to a secluded spot, with a few friends, is not going to end well. Okay, if not the characters maybe the producers then? This well-trodden premise is the plot of Black Rock, a ‘thriller’ directed by Katie Aselton and scripted by her husband Mark Duplass.

Sarah (Kate Bosworth) and Abby (Aselton) are two old friends taking a weekend trip to an island on which they used to play as children. On the way they stop to pick up third wheel, Lou (Lake Hall), whom Abby is reluctant to accompany due to an indiscretion with a former boyfriend. After Sarah uses awkward emotional blackmail to coax them into coming along with her, the trio are soon alone on the island and it’s not long before Lou and Abby are at each others' throats arguing about the past.

Just as things seem to be calming down between the two, the peace is shattered by the appearance of three creepy hunters skulking through the woods. It turns out one of them, Henry, is the sibling of an old school friend and both he and his buddies are Iraq veterans, all lately dishonourably discharged.

When Abby’s drunken seduction of Henry goes wrong, it isn’t long before the girls weekend away turns into that nightmarish game of cat and mouse in the woods that you’ve seen a million times before. If only they’d gone to Butlins.

There is very little going for Black Rock, its characters being so one dimensional and dull that you'll probably end up hoping that the hunters would catch their quarry. You can only imagine that if the film perhaps took itself a little less seriously and maybe added a dash of wit to proceedings, there could even be room for a few laughs with the two hapless huntsmen.

Unfortunately Aselton opts for playing it straight, and rather than delivering any authentic, original thrills, the cat and mouse aspect is instead spun out into 83 minutes of purgatory that feels like a half-baked mumblecore First Blood. Only not half as interesting or entertaining as that sounds.

If there is one saving grace it would be the presence of Kate Bosworth. Though she is as poorly sketched and as annoying as all the rest, somehow her generic blonde countenance is the most palatable thing amid the dim plot padding and lame acting.

While at its heart it may have been full of good intentions, Black Rock ends up looking turgid and risible. Not scary enough to be a horror, not gripping enough to be a thriller, and far too base to be clever. It looks cheap and suffers from the distinct lack of acting talent, and far from coming across as the smart, indie Deliverance it so clearly aspires to be, it actually bears closer resemblance to the sort of joyless B-movie that you’d find on a made-for-TV film channel.

Anticipation

A weekend in the woods goes wrong again? Oh spare us…

2

Enjoyment

Dull characters. Dull setting. Just…dull.

1

In Retrospect

A formulaic dirge, further let down by a lack of the shocks, scares and interesting characterisations.

1
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