Black Rock is respectable little film featuring two daring performances from Aselton, who also served as director, and Bell. The story is good enough to keep one’s attention but the villains are rather one-dimensional, almost Deliverance-lite, and it is brutal in its violent nature that I’m not sure I really would revisit it any time soon.
Lionsgate | R – 80 min. – $24.99 | July 30, 2013
Directed by: Katie Aselton
Writer(s): Katie Aselton (story), Mark Duplass (screenplay)
Cast: Katie Aselton, Lake Bell, Kate Bosworth, Will Bouvier, Jay Paulson, Ansiem Richardson
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Theatrical Trailer, UltraViolet Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.85
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish
Disc Size: 21.7 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.0/5
Sometimes the simplest stories can make for the greatest, most emotional movies… and sometimes the emotion, despite respectable performances, lacks any genuine emotion at all.
Black Rock centers on three friends — Sarah (KATE BOSWORTH), Lou (LAKE BELL) and Abby (KATIE ASELTON) — who are together for the first time in a long time after Lou and Abby had a falling out and were tricked by Sarah to take a trip to their childhood getaway. But on this isolated island, Lou and Abby hash it out as Lou, six years prior, had slept with Abby’s then boyfriend. Their feud takes a backseat when the three ladies get unexpected guests in three men, Henry (WILL BOUVIER), Alex (ANSLEM RICHARDSON) and Derek (JAY PAULSON) who are on the island doing some (illegal) hunting.
For one reason or another, Abby invites the men to stay and have a party. That night Abby decides to get wasted and is hanging all over Henry while the other four sit silently around a campfire. When Abby drunkenly goes into the woods, and in turn beckons Henry to come, the two passionately make out when he wants to go all the way, Abby hits him over the head with a rock, not only dazing him but ultimately killing him. Derek and Alex come running to their friend’s aide and of course are royally pissed to see what Abby had done, taking it out on all three.
We next see the three girls tied together around a log beaten all the hell up and Derek and Alex arguing over what to do with Derek wanting to kill Abby outright. After some argumentative bantering back and forth, the girls manage to escape and now the hunt is on as Derek especially is out for revenge. What chance to these girls stand in the wilderness with no way to communicate with the mainland, as established earlier by Lou that her cell phone didn’t work, going up against two men who, by the way, are war veterans recently home from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
From here Black Rock turns into your basic survival-revenge flick combined with a bit of girl power thrown in as the ladies must attempt not only to elude their hunters but derive a plan for either escape or ultimately killing the pursuers before they get killed themselves. This is nothing new for cinema and for the most part, although brutal, it’s nothing terribly memorable either.
On the performance front, I will give some tribute to the three leading women. Kate Bosworth, the glue keeping the group together, is fun but her role is limited and yields to Katie Aselton and Lake Bell who have the most tension early on but must rely on one another to put their differences aside, and seek forgiveness, in order to survive. I also give credit to the pair for a risqué scene where the pair strip down after a failed attempt to get away via the frigid waters; and no, it’s not done gratuitously but another step taken to endure.
The other highlight for the film is the fact Katie Aselton, along with starring in harsh conditions, also served as the director. Even though this isn’t the most compelling story but she at least manages to capture the right ambience and keep the story as simple as possible without overcomplicating with unnecessary elements, although giving the two villains more meat to their characters, other than they’re psychopaths (at least one of them is), would’ve helped. Even so, for s small independently financed film, it’s relatively well done even if it’s only worth one viewing especially for the brutality shown doesn’t leave the viewer exactly striving for more.
In the end, Black Rock is hardly the perfect suspense-thriller but there’s enough here to warrant one viewing primarily for the performances by Aselton and Bell who share some wonderful scenes together. There’s also sufficient story there to capture my attention during the 75-minute duration but it’s nothing I want to watch again even when the positives (performances) outweigh the negatives (thin character development).
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.5/5
This release comes with a matted slip cover which matches the inner cover artwork. Inside is a code for the UltraViolet Digital Copy.
Audio Commentary – Writer/Director/Actress Katie Aselton and Actress Lake Bell sit down for a light-hearted yet informative commentary giving anecdotal stories on location, working with the cast and the hardships shooting in Maine.
Behind the Scenes of Black Rock (7:51; HD) offers a brief look at making the movie with interviews by the cast and crew talking about their characters and the story. It’s nothing amazing but there’s some decent insight here.
A Thrilling Score: The Music of Black Rock (8:49; HD) looks at the creation of the score and the process by Ben Lovett.
Theatrical Trailer (2:29; HD)
Previews – Killer Joe, The Collection, Winter’s Bone
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Lionsgate, via LD Entertainment, boats out to the desolate island and discovers a well defined 1080p high-definition transfer. The picture isn’t the sharpest looking I’ve come across yet close-ups and some midrange shots have fine detail levels. The darker scenes, for which there are a few nighttime shots, are nice and deep and on the whole, this looks like a clean transfer that might not pop off the screen but is still on par or just above most low budget projects.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track isn’t anything spectacular except it does get the job done with crystal clear dialogue coming through the center channel. Other elements, such as wrestling tree limbs, the crunch of soil, birds, etc. gets directed through the front and, mostly, rear speakers. I can’t say this is a dynamic lossless track; it is at the very least satisfactory, nevertheless.
OVERALL – 3.25/5
Overall, Black Rock is respectable little film featuring two daring performances from Aselton, who also served as director, and Bell. The story is good enough to keep one’s attention but the villains are rather one-dimensional, almost Deliverance-lite, and it is brutal in its violent nature that I’m not sure I really would revisit it any time soon. The Blu-ray distributed by Lionsgate does have a good video/audio transfers and the features, albeit light, is decent.