Review: Black Rock

Black Rock is the sum of all the horror movie tropes about women combined with a slick production guised as a female empowerment flick that unfortunately is short on good writing or ideas.

Three friends (Kate Bosworth, Lake Bell and director and writer of the film Kate Aselton) with personal problems reunite for a weekend trip. But they don’t go to Vegas or to some tropical paradise or some creepy bed and breakfast. Instead they go to a gloomy and very uncomfortable looking secluded island because apparently they went there numerous times when they were younger.

There, they meet some local hunters on the island who they invite to join their camp leading to (cue scary music) horrific results. 

The writing struggles with what it wants to be. The first 20 minutes could play off as any feel-good females-working-out-their-differences film as it is all about the relationships between the three female characters.

The trouble is that when they actually start getting into some deep character development, the evil men appear and all of it immediately goes out the window and we go to damsel in distress mode in under a minute. We are left with cardboard characters we know little to nothing about other than one slept with another’s boyfriend back in high school and one said she has cancer but really doesn’t. It’s not that there is anything inherently wrong with Black Rock – it looks good, it sounds good, the atmosphere is right – it just profoundly unoriginal. It showed promise of developing these characters but immediately drops these ideas for an immediate attempted rape where one of the chicks kills the rapist and sets the other two ex-military men off beating the crap out of the ladies and tying them up. Leading to the inevitable men hunting women in the scary woods because you haven’t seen that before.

Just take a look at the clichés in the first 40 minutes:

  1. Of the three girls centered in the film, two of the three are at odds and didn’t realize the other was coming along.
  2. They travel to an abandoned, secluded island.
  3. No phone reception, naturally.
  4. One of them goes into the woods alone with someone that obviously has naughty intentions.
  5. Hunted by a killer in the woods.
  6. The killers (ex-military mind you) not properly tying knots allowing for an obligatory escape.

Now the film does get points as both Bell and Aeslton at some point jump into the ice cold water around the island and must disrobe leading to some naked primal combat in the second half. But it’s fleeting and seems like an offering to forget all the bad acting, bad choices and really lousy dialogue that had come before (and that comes after). Plus, it plays to female bonding but comes off as gratuitous – which isn’t a bad thing but because issues get resolved among the women, it isn’t supposed to be needless.

Understandably, Black Rock is trying in some way show female empowerment over gnarly men that are anything but good but it comes off just as just another poorly written, trope-heavy genre film that we have seen numerous times before. 

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