Review: ‘Black Rock’ Isn’t Worth the Trip


Black Rock is an American Horror/Thriller in the Survival subgenre.  This film was directed by Katie Aselton (who also stars as Abby) and her husband Mark Duplass wrote the script.  Black Rock was funded on KickStarter in a campaign Aselton began in 2011 with the goal of directing a thriller that audiences would see as realistic.

Read my review after the jump.

Official Synopsis:  Three childhood friends set aside their personal issues and reunite for a girls’ weekend on a remote island off the coast of Maine. One wrong move turns their weekend getaway into a deadly fight for survival.

I’m not the kind of guy who enjoys ripping movies to shreds.  I know how much effort goes into bringing a film to fruition, so I prefer to point out strengths as opposed to weaknesses.  If I can’t say something nice or contribute something productive, I usually don’t say anything at all—which makes Black Rock a difficult film for me to review.

The acting is excellent on all fronts, especially Aselton, Kate Bosworth, and Lake Bell who play the film’s protagonists.  It honestly seems like these three have known each other for years and every bit of conversation feels completely unscripted.  I really believe the relationships.


Black Rock tries to be accessible and more “mainstream” than your average Horror offering (lite on gore, strong female characters), and succeeds in many respects.  This is a film that’s suitable for younger Horror aficionados and those who like a good thrill without being emotionally devastated by graphic depictions of violence.  Those who like their Horror to put them through the ringer, on the other hand, will find Black Rock fluffy.  It’s a shame because Horror needs more female directors who can compete with the big boys.

While slightly sterile on the surface, Black Rock can actually be taken as offensive on several levels.  To be clear, I do not think that the filmmakers intended to be offensive, but ignorance shines brightly.  I’m speaking of the three hunters, the film’s antagonists, the bad guys who descend like beasts upon our happy heroines. Of course I expect my villains to be dastardly, but I expect to be given some sort of hint as to their evil motivations.  The only explanation we are given for their psychotic behavior is:  They’re veterans.  We are told that they served three tours overseas, have only been home for 18 days, and were dishonorably discharged.  And that’s enough for us to accept that they are mentally damaged animals, capable of atrocities.  What?

First of all, I know guys who have served overseas, deep in the shit, and they are some of the best people on Earth.  Going to war is devastating, but it doesn’t automatically turn young men into animals.  And if these guys in Black Rock have mental issues, it probably has more to due with PTSD than an inherent maliciousness.  Veterans need to be appreciated, treated with respect and empathy—especially when they’ve been traumatized.  I would have rather the antagonists  had been generic hunters than ex-soldiers.  Then, if motivations were never explained, at least we can assume it comes from bad childhoods, and not from service overseas.  Veterans should not be made into easy bad-guys simply because they have served in combat situations.  The violence of war can not be translated or quantified into psychotic actions.

While I’m up on my soapbox, I got to wonder whether it was he female director or the male screenwriter who decided it was necessary for the women to get naked and huddle together for warmth?  And who decided that they should stay naked while searching for ways to defend themselves on the forested island?  It didn’t offend me because I enjoy looking at beautiful boobies, but it was unnecessary and therefore, feels like pandering.  A film that wants to be taken seriously and seen as realistic needs to avoid Horror movie cliques like plague.

Youngsters may dig this story of friendship and triumph over difficult odds, but Horror aficionados need to skip this flick, unless you enjoy boredom and disappointment.

1 out of 5 Skull Heads

Trailer: HERE  

Release Date May 17 2013
Studio LD Entertainment
Director Katie Aselton
Writer Mark Duplass
Starring Katie Aselton, Lake Bell, Kate Bosworth, Jay Paulson, Anslem Richardson, Will Bouvier

About Saucy Josh

I write a blog for intelligent Horror movie aficionados called Blood and Guts for Grown Ups: View all posts by Saucy Josh

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