Thursday, October 09, 2014
Black Rock (2012)
Who's In It: Katie Aselton (The League, Our Idiot Brother), Lake Bell (Surface, In a World...), and Kate Bosworth (Superman Returns, Homefront).
What It's About: Three friends try to overcome personal baggage while camping on an island and running from sociopathic former soldiers.
How It Is: After Shark Night I was questioning some of the movies on my watchlist, but once I started watching Black Rock I quickly figured out why I wanted to see it. I love lonely islands, both in real life and as settings for movies. Come to think of it, that and the sea creatures were probably my initial attraction to Shark Night. Then there's the female-led cast in a survival movie directed by a woman and written by her husband.
The director is Katie Aselton, who also heads the cast. She shot the movie in and around her hometown in Maine and there's some really nice stuff in it. The scenery is amazing, the soundtrack by The Kills is great, and it's got a couple of actors I really like. I've been a fan of Lake Bell since the too-short-lived series Surface and I'm one of the three people who really liked Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane. I wasn't very familiar with Aselton, but she does a great job playing a very flawed, but relatable character. Once things go wrong on the island, the action often feels brutally real, though going after that kind of authenticity doesn't always work in the movie's favor.
I don't know how much of the dialogue was scripted and how much was improvised, but it certainly feels improvised in a lot of places. Sometimes that works, but there are some important, dramatic moments that could have used another take or two. Scenes that should feel powerfully emotional sometimes come off awkward. Not always, but more often than should be and in some important parts of the plot. Because of that, some crucial motivations feel unnatural, which calls the whole story into question.
But look, it could've been so much worse. Maybe I'm just glad it wasn't another Shark Night, but for what's essentially a homemade movie, Black Rock has a lot more going for it than I expected. That's barely praise, I know, but it hit enough of my favorite buttons that I enjoyed it.
Rating: Three out of five isolated islands.