Sunday, May 12, 2013

Gals go horror/slasher in Katie Aselton's and Mark Duplass' numbskull BLACK ROCK

Have you ever asked yourself why it's always the guys who get to go slicing and dicing their way through the gals in almost all these horror/slasher flicks? Nor have I. (It's fairly obvious, no? Brute strength and predisposition, plus increasing paternalism, fundamentalism and the congregating of wealth and power in the western -- hell, the eastern, too -- world.) Actress/
director Katie Aselton has clearly been wondering about this, and she has persuaded her hubby, actor/producer/writer/director and sometimes editor Mark Duplass, to help her turn the tables, so to speak. The result is BLACK ROCK.

Last year Ms Aselton, shown at left, wrote and directed her first film, the not-bad, love-cum-infidelity tale, THE FREEBIE, so hopes, on my part, were high for this new one. Plus, the idea behind the film sounded at least interesting and a little different. Alas, the result (to re-coin a phrase) proves an embarrassment of wretches.

From the first, as our three gals get together, their chat is realistic but lame. (Realistic ain't enough, screenwriters; make at least one of your characters intelligent and/or unusual enough to hold our interest.) This pre-event time is our one chance to get to know, maybe even like, these women prior to the "action" starting up. Instead, despite a few moments, as we (along with two of the three characters) are given a small surprise, we're soon bored and tired enough of their companionship to want to get on with the violence that we know from the movie's trailer is coming up.

The three are heading out to an island on which they used to spend time as kids. Once there, they encounter three young men, just out of the military and back from our middle-east wars, one of whom they remember from their school days. What happens is both expected and not. The way it happens is the best thing about Ms Azelton's film. For the fault initially lies as much with the gals as with the guys -- until the point of no return is suddenly reached and then breached.

We've been told often enough how many of our young men come back from our current wars in terrible mental and emotional shape. The movie make a nod to this -- and then uses the guys' precarious state as an excuse for blood, gore, stupidity and sleaze. Think of Black Rock as a kind of paean to our boys who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and come back as cretinous killing machines. And while our three gals -- played by Kate Bosworth (two photos up), Lake Bell (above) and Ms Aselton -- are pretty stupid, the guys, it turns out, are infinitely dumber.

Our three ex-soldiers are played by Will Bouvier (above), Jay Paulson (below) and Anslem Richardson (partially shown at bottom, who is definitely the least seen-and-heard member of the cast). The whole group does as well as it can with the material given. Which is never better than pedestrian and eventually works its way into dreadful.

The movie's worst sin is simple unbelievability. You don't buy much of anything in it, particularly once the violence begins. The worst scene is one in which two of our heroines, naked and wet in the dead of night, instead of readying their necessary weapons, decide to have a heart-to-heart. Oy. Black Rock is a movie in which all involved are out of their element and way over their heads.

The film, from LD Entertainment and running a thankfully short 80 minutes, opens this Friday, May 17, in 23 theaters across 17 cities. Click here to find the one nearest you.

The photos above are from the film itself -- 
except for that of Ms Aselton, which is by 


Anonymous said...

Hi James,

Here's a list of theaters BLACK ROCK is playing:

Best regards,

John Dhabolt

James van Maanen said...

Hi, John -- and thanks for sending the link to the theaters. Your PR group already did this, and so I added it at the end of my post. But having it appear twice can't hurt....