Black Rock Review

Black Rock Review

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Approaching Black Rock while being aware that it has a 78 minute run time, it would be fair to speculate that it will either be quick and compelling or under cooked and underplayed; unfortunately it proves to be the latter.

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The story follows three friends who have grown apart over the years and have come back together to visit a place of their childhood, an island off Maine, once there they encounter three men whom they end up pitted against in a bloody battle of the sexes.

For Black Rock, the story, setting and concept are all very compelling, unfortunately all of these elements are let down by the two corner stone’s of a film ; writing and acting. The script makes an oft made mistake of omitting any character development for our three heroines before placing them in peril, seemingly hoping that you simply feel for their plight just because they are women stranded on an island with dangerous men.  Director and story concept developer (though the actual writing credit goes to her husband Mark Duplass)  Kate Aselton also casts herself as one of the three girls with Lake Bell and Kate Bosworth playing her childhood friends. Opportunities for tension building when the girls reach their deserted island are wasted by having the girls fill every single silence with endless incessant chatter, which very quickly begins to jar.

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When the girls meet the only other current inhabitants of the island, there is little doubt from the men’s ominous introduction that they are dangerous. Having successfully communicated that the men may be a serious threat, the first tentative interactions between the girls and the three men (recently dishonorably discharged soldiers) around a campfire does inject the film with much needed tension. Unfortunately though the film doesn’t maintain this tension for long as it dives into overlong cat and mouse chase sequences and then barrels into a underwhelming and sparse denouncement.

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The theme of the film is clear from its outset ; this is a story about the basic differences of men and women that wants to showcase women’s inner strength and primordial ability to defeat the physical brawn of men. It’s a good concept but it is handled in a very obvious heavy handed way; the girls literally strip away everything in their battle against their male counter parts, until they are half naked and panting with stone tool weapons in their hands. One almost expects them to break into a chorus of ‘Wannabe’ by the Spice Girls and start screaming about Girl Power. The film could have benefited from a little subtlety of message and expansion of character, especially in the case of the male tormentors who are howlingly hollow and under developed.

2 out of 5 stars

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