The ladies in Black Rock are supposed to be annoying. That’s the only conclusion one can draw from their incessant whining, catfighting and drunk flirting. Abby (director Katie Aselton, who came up with the story with husband Mark Duplass) is especially guilty, but her childhood BFFs Lou (Lake Bell), whose indiscretion with Abby’s boyfriend years ago is still a sore point between them, and Sarah (Kate Bosworth), who hopes to make peace with a private camping trip on an uninhabited rocky island off the coast of Maine, don’t come off much better.
The situation grows even more awkward when the women realize they’re not alone on the small isle, and Abby (of course it’s Abby) impulsively and imprudently suggests they hang out with the three hunters who’ve stumbled on their little camp. Apparently unhappily married, she lures cute Henry (Will Bouvier) into the woods while Derek (Jay Paulson) and Alex (Anslem Richardson) explain to Sarah and Lou that they’re all military buddies. It’s scary and sad that the fact that they’ve only been back from the Middle East for 18 days sets off a girl’s inner alarm bells. That they were dishonorably discharged only heightens the tension.
When things get rapey, the women find themselves outgunned in a battle for survival that brings out their primal instincts. The conflict between Abby and Lou works as a nice narrative and thematic layer—their petty differences quickly become irrelevant when their lives are at stake.
But for a movie made by women for women, Black Rock disappointingly descends to slap fights and exploitative nudity. Sure, one can go along with the characters’ need to avoid hypothermia by shedding wet clothes and huddling for warmth, but then they run through the woods and whittle stakes buck naked—bras and panties don’t take that long to dry.
Aselton’s film is short and simple with an empowering message that in a lot of ways finds the reality in a life-and-death situation. And reality is sometimes annoying.
Director: Katie Aselton
Writers: Katie Aselton, Mark Duplass
Starring: Kate Bosworth, Lake Bell, Katie Aselton
Release Date: May 17, 2013