It seems that if you get a female director, then add a female-centric cast, the masses like to label a film a ‘feminist reworking’ of the thriller/horror genre. It appears that this is exactly what has happened with Katie Aselton’s Black Rock, which, incidentally, was written by her husband, Mark Duplass.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s quite interesting enough in terms of gender roles to be conveyed as a piece of feminist film, nor do I think that was Duplass/Aselton’s intention either. Trying to draw Feminism from Black Rock seems like clutching at straws just because the main protagonists are female.

And if this is a commentary on gender and/or feminism then the thriller genre seriously needs to take a long hard look in the mirror as the damsel in distress who becomes tough against the odds is getting predictable to say the least.

Childhood friends Sarah (Kate Bosworth), Lou (Lake Bell) and Abby (director Katie Aselton) reunite for a trip that Sarah has organised to a deserted island off the coast of Maine that they used to visit as kids. A lot of water’s passed under the bridge since then – Lou and Abby no longer speak since Lou slept with Abby’s boyfriend six years previous, leaving Sarah to uphold the peace as they head off to the nearby for their camp out. Sounds like a recipe for disaster already right?

Things soon turn even more sour when the helpless ladies are shocked to see three men carrying rifles emerging from the thicket, but all is well when they quickly recognise Henry (Will Bouvier) as a former schoolmate, phew!. The guys, including Derek (Jay Paulson) and Alex (Anslem Richardson), explain that they’ve recently returned from serving in the military in the Middle East and are on the island hunting. Abby invites the three to join them for a fireside dinner, where she becomes increasingly drunk and flirtatious with Henry.

The pivotal downfall of all women in thrillers- becoming too boozy and flirtatious in a rather vulnerable setting-there’s always one…

A woodsy make out session gets too intense when Henry becomes overly aggressive and Abby kicks off the drama that helps the film descend in to the typical Cat and Mouse chase that is seen in most gender-centric thrillers.

Lake-Bell-Katie-Aselton-Kate-Bosworth-Black-Rock

Okay, so maybe this is an attempt to make the three women seem like bad-ass Amazonian huntresses a la ‘I spit on your grave’ but it feels kind of ridiculous at times. The story of the girls returning to a place of their childhood- which is actually a remote and wooded area seems like the perfect recipe for a thriller which is why believability is at times lost- their back story is there just to flesh out the beginning before the chaos and blood-splattered chasing can begin.

There are some great chase scenes and slasher moments – it’s when these moments take precedent that perhaps the ‘girl power’ message becomes prevalent- and sadly it isn’t executed very well. The women often make stupid choices- something once again typical of women in thrillers- and at times this is frustrating.

However, Black Rock isn’t all bad. The score is ace and the actors do well with their limited scripts and back-stories.

Worth a watch and it will entertain to a certain degree but the ‘edge of your seat’ element is lost due to the two dimensional plot. What’s thrilling about being able to predict the outcome?

 

 

About The Author

Emily Stockham

Emily is from South London and has a degree in English Literature. Emily is a marketing assistant who writes about films and music in her spare time. Horror and grindhouse are her thing – although she will happily watch anything if it means a trip to the cinema.