Review: 'Black Rock'

This review was originally published on January 24, 2012 as part of's coverage of The 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

There are so many things wrong with Katie Aselton's Black Rock that it's hard to know where to begin. I'm a fan of Aselton and her husband Mark Duplass, I watch them both religiously in The League on FX. As such, I had high hopes here - Aselton directs and stars, while Duplass penned the script.

Let's cut right to the chase, even though the movie doesn't. It runs by at a brisk 83 minutes, but for some reason the excruciatingly slow beginning takes forever to pick up steam. We have three friends: Abby (Aselton), Sarah (Kate Bosworth), and Lou (Lake Bell). We soon learn Abby and Lou have been holding some kind of grudge for years. The gals meet a group of local hillbillies wandering the island. The gentleman used to be in the armed forces, but were let go after each received a dishonorable discharge. This is apparently enough information for us to understand that they're no-good scum. They know one of the ex-soldiers so a paper-thin line can be drawn from the antagonists to the women.

What follows is one of the most generic and mundane hunter/stalker movies out there. It's Deliverance-lite. Placing three women in this role (and having them fight against men) isn't original, anyone who has seen a few horror movies knows that women have been dispatching male slashers and killers ever since the dawn of horror cinema. So when the trio of girls get the crap beat out of them (over and over) you never feel as though they're in actual danger. Movies like this are only as good as their villain, and the antagonists here are downright terrible. They're goofy and moronic. The two hillbillies in Shark Night provided more of a scare. At least one of those guys had the sense to file his teeth down into shark teeth so we knew he was a bad guy. The girls talk about the fellas like they're trained killers, but the type of killing savvy these guys possess is stunningly idiotic, they're completely inept at it.

Mark Duplass wrote this whole movie while on a "weather-induced layover." When your movie turns out like this one, that's nothing to brag about. Sure, Duplass has an ear for intimate conversational dialogue, and is one of the quickest when it comes to improvising on screen. Unfortunately, when it comes to the world of horror he's out of his element. The screenplay is far too obsessed with the setup, and not at all concerned with making the villains even the least bit believable or scary.

SCORE: 2.5 / 10