The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Black Rock | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Black Rock

Three women are trapped on a remote island by a pair of vengeful army veterans.

Directed by: Katie Aselton
Starring: Katie Aselton, Lake Bell, Kate Bosworth, Will Bouvier, Jay Paulson, Anslem Richardson

The well-meaning Sarah (Bosworth) dupes her childhood friends Abby (Aselton) and Lou (Bell) into joining her on a weekend trip to a remote island, despite the fact they haven't spoken in years, thanks to Lou sleeping with Abby's fiance. Once on the island, Lou and Abby begin to bicker but their dispute is put on hold upon encountering three young men, recently dishonorably discharged from service in Iraq, who are on a hunting trip. Abby invites them to join in with campfire drinks and gets herself wasted, flirting with one of the men, Henry (Bouvier). She invites him into the woods but Henry begins to get aggressive with his demands. What follows places the three women in extreme peril.
The use of the word "exploitation" in the phrase "exploitation movie" is often incorrectly thought to refer to the treatment of the actresses who appeared in such films, as they often found themselves in varying states of undress. It actually refers to the exploitation of the audience. These movies were designed to appeal to the base nature of film-goers, going out of their way to provide the sort of cheap thrills we all relish, some more openly than others. Nowadays, of course, we're all far too "sophisticated" for such simple pleasures. This is why critics fawn over Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained', yet wouldn't be caught dead admitting to enjoy Sergio Corbucci's original 'Django'. Exploitation movies today are invariably comedic send-ups of the genre; 'Machete', 'Hobo with a ShotGun', 'Zombies Vs Strippers'; movies which never live up to their titles.
Aselton, refreshingly, has made a straight-up exploitation flick. There's nothing "meta" or post-modern about 'Black Rock'. Its protagonists are identifiably realistic women, rather than porn-stars trying to get their mainstream break. It's a mere 80 minutes long, simply because that's all it needs to tell its primal tale, and it passes those 80 minutes entertainingly enough. The final set-piece is impressively handled by Aselton, recalling Hitchcock's 'Torn Curtain', as the female protagonists realistically struggle to overpower their military-trained antagonist.
It would be easy to call this a feminist movie, purely because it's directed by a woman, but that would negate the fact that many movies from the golden age of seventies and eighties exploitation were indeed helmed by women like Barbara Peeters, Katt Shea and Doris Wishman. This is nothing more than a simple exploitation movie, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Eric Hillis