May 26, 2013

Black Rock (2013)

(aka The Hike part 2)
Release Date: In Limited Release now.
Country: USA.
Written by: Mark Duplass and Katie Aselton.
Directed by: Katie Aselton.
Starring: Katie Aselton, Lake Bell and Kate Bosworth.

The first thing that came to mind as we started watching Black Rock, was how similar it felt to a movie called The Hike. The Hike is a 2011 British flick about a group of girls that head out into the isolated woods for a girls weekend, only to be set upon and brutalized by a group of normal looking dudes... There are differences between the two movies, but they are also very similar.

Our review of The Hike can be found HERE.

Aside from the familiarity issue, we were really looking forward to seeing Black Rock. Katie Aselton and husband Mark Duplass are great on FX's The League, and they've both written and directed some decent movies before, so their joint-foray into the Horror genre felt like it was bound to be a good one.

Turns out, it was a middle of the road type of joint-foray.

The idea of three girlfriends heading out to a deserted island for a weekend of drinking and sleeping on the beach seems a far fetched one to me, but when the girls in question are this hot, I'm willing to suspend my disbelief and just see how things play out.

Kate Bosworth has two BFF's in the form of Lake Bell and Katie Aselton, both of whom are feuding with each other because one banged the other's boyfriend a few years back. Determined to heal old wounds, Kate tells them that she has cancer and only has up to 46 months to live, which totally shocks her BFF's, and makes them decide to put aside their bitter hatred of one another, to give their BFF one last cold, isolated weekend on a shitty island... but surprise, she doesn't really have cancer! It was all a clever ruse. Some BFF she is.

That all unfolds and is resolved in the first 7 minutes of the movie. Yeah.

"No cancer LOL"
My weekend would have been done right there, because I would have been like "bitch, you're shady" and I would have left. Being girls though, they all decide to hop on a boat and head out to Shitty Island to bond despite the deceit, because girls kinda thrive on drama. Once there, they argue, go for a hike, argue some more, call each other whores, and are all like "bring it then, bitch!" Don't worry though, because they have a heartfelt apology session and squash all of the drama by the 20 minute mark. Yeah.

Slow-witted, or really high... you decide.
Right at the aforementioned 20 minute mark, three shady looking fuckers show up, heavily armed and looking really suspicious, and are quickly invited by the basket-case of the group to join them because "we've got a shit-ton of liquor." Sounds like some more great decision making by the three hot chicks who are basically helpless and alone on an island, miles from any sort of help. These dudes are also recently dishonorably discharged Soldiers who just got back from Iraq... so, they are probably not in the mood to deal with some dumb bitches.

"You gon' get raped."
Later that night when the basket-case of the group gets drunk, throws herself at the head creeper, then wanders off into the woods all by her drunk lonesome, he follows her, tries to get some sugar, and she ends up caving his head in with a rock. His friends are none to pleased with this, and decide to kill the girls all "Hadji-style," which all just felt really out of place to us.

Typical backwoods Horror tropes ensue.

They look awful without makeup...
Katie Aselton directed the hell out of this Black Rock, even though there wasn't much of a story to work with. It's a technically sound little flick that set a pretty decent atmosphere and gave us some smooth visuals, despite what were guessing was a small budget.

Lake Bell and Kate Bosworth were the highlights of this movie. Both are extremely likable and come off as such here, despite Bosworth's frustrating lack of sense towards the end. Katie Aselton is someone we usually like too, but her character wasn't very likable, although we suppose that was intended.

It seems as if everyone involved in making this movie had a blast doing so, that's at least pretty cool.

Aaw, they look so happy.
The premise of three hot chicks taking a boat out to an isolated island for a weekend of camping and roughing it, just made no sense to us. If they had been man-chicks, we could have bought into it a lot more, but these were pretty girls. I'll even go so far as to say they were girly-girls. They could have at least written a cabin into the story, because a gang of girly-girls might just head out to a secluded cabin on an isolated island for a... no. We still wouldn't have bought it.

And why in the poster does Lake Bell look all kinds of menacing, as if her character has some sort of deep dark secret that's going to drive the movie forward somehow? She doesn't, by the way. No one does. (Drive the movie forward by way of character, that is.)

And if you're going to make a Thriller that relies heavily on story, then make it a good story. If your story is weak, then you go heavier on the action or gore. Hell, most Horror flicks throw in gratuitous sex and nudity to cover up the fact that they mostly suck... So, solid story, or solid visual titillation; you have to give audiences one thing or the other if you expect them to buy what you're selling. This movie kinda half-assed both sides of that fence.

Come on, man. Titillate us!
I can imagine that the whole "recently dishonorably discharged Soldier" element of the plot might draw the ire of some viewers. I'm guessing that these Soldiers are supposedly all suffering from some sort of PTSD and/or are in pissy moods because their Government just betrayed them, either of which seems like bad plot devices to be throwing into a Horror flick these days. Just my two cents, but it almost felt like a very subtle statement of some kind, and a misplaced one at that.

There are a few incidents of gun violence, and various characters get punched with fists and/or rocks, but the blood & gore are rather tame in this one. Black Rock is all about the suspenseful thrills, not visceral ones.

In one scene, Katie Aselton and Lake Bell strip out of their wet clothes, and huddle together for warmth. Naked. Sounds epic, doesn't it? Well, most of it took place in the shadows, and there was absolutely nothing sexy about the scene, so as good as it sounds on paper, there was nothing graphic of exciting about it. Shame, that, because Lake Bell has some world-class boobs. Seriously, Lake Bell does not fuck around when it comes to being hot and buxom.

God Damn it all, kiss her!
It pains me to say that we didn't really like Black Rock all that much. We love the cast and the behind the camera talent involved with the movie, but the movie itself just seems to retread old, familiar waters, and never really brings much excitement or terror to the party. Had it pushed things a bit more, or had it been a deeper experience, it would have worked well. Alas, it just felt too safe to us.

In the end, Black Rock is just another hollow, barely memorable backwoods Horror flick that smarts in its failings all the more because it wasted such a good cast. Duplass and Aselton are still faves of ours, but this little project of theirs did absolutely nothing for us.


The triumvirate of hotness in Black Rock is a powerful one indeed, and we especially love Lake Bell. That girl is just a special, special breed of hot. Odd name though. Makes me think of summer camp.


  1. I love the word "buxom". You should use it more often! ;-)

  2. At first, I was wondering if I have already watched this movie because of the premise but then I looked closely at some pictures of the girls and realized that I didn't. No, not those in your review. I better have had because then I wouldn't have seen the movie. Yeah, I couln't stop rolling my eyes. At least every second minute I was thinking "Seriously?" or "Uh, wasted potential!" and that's pretty sad considering the babes being really pretty.