Black Rock

Shudder Island

by Glenn Lovell

We know from past experience that the bad days outnumber the good in places like Black Rock. So it comes as no surprise that things go wrong almost from the get-go in the low-budget indie “Black Rock,” set on a tiny forested island off the coast of Maine.

It’s here that three girlhood pals now in their thirties go to unwind ‒ and because two of them fell out over a fella a few years back, this is what you might call a session in survivalist reconciliation.


Bell and Aselton: Wild things

The chummy, sunny Sarah (Kate Bosworth) organized the reunion, really a treasure hunt inspired by of all things the movie “Goonies.”  “Think of it as an adventure, guys,” coaxes Sarah. Lou (Lake Bell) and Abby (Katie Aselton), who can’t stand the sight of one another, agree to tag along after Sarah tells them she’s dying of cancer. It’s a bad joke, of course, but it nicely sets the tone for much of what follows.

Once on the island the friends go exploring. They turn up three hunters armed with guns. Bad sign. The hunters introduce themselves as gung-ho Army vets. Another bad sign. And did we mention they received dishonorable discharges? Cue the sirens and flashing lights.

Violence begets violence and soon someone’s yelling, “Run!”

Directed by Aselton from a cliche-riddled script by husband Mark Duplass ‒ the dialogue is peppered with such expressions as “Bring it!” and “I got your back!” ‒ “Black Rock” (now available on PPV) still proves a grim, entertaining, efficiently plotted little thriller. “We came here to hunt,” says one of the hunters when things start to escalate. “We’ll just hunt ’em down!”

Oh, yeah? This guy obviously didn’t get a look at the script. If he had he’d know he’s part of a feminist reworking of “The Most Dangerous Game” and “Deliverance,” with the friends soon stripped down and armed, like a tribe of Amazonian huntresses. And once they get their war faces on, they give better than they get.

Kudos to Aselton, who obviously doesn’t mind getting down and dirty plying her craft. Based on this film, her second behind the camera, she has the makings of a decent exploitation director. “Black Rock” has the visceral appeal of early Kathryn Bigelow.

BLACK ROCK 1/2 With Katie Aselton, Lake Bell, Kate Bosworth, Jay Paulson. Directed by Aselton; scripted by Mark Duplass. 83 mins. Rated R (for profanity,  female nudity, violence)

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