Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Black Rock (2012)

Black Rock is a pretty straightforward movie, but it's very good at what it does. Three women return to the island where they used to camp as children, but things go south when a group of men show up, and it turns into a rugged fight for survival. This movie, directed by a woman (Katie Aselton, who also stars, alongside Lake Bell and Kate Bosworth), is very much in the vein of Wilderness Survival For Girls. It may not be quite as thought-provoking, but it's a good depiction of sisterhood. In fact, one of its best features is the very natural-feeling interactions between the three women. Two of them are estranged, but will have to put aside their differences in order to survive the threat that stalks them in the woods.

This theme reaches its climax in a naked nighttime huddling scene, which doesn't feel gratuitous at all. I applaud the filmmakers for not shying away from nudity where it has a very logical place in the story, although I was still disappointed when the clothes magically came back as soon as the sun came up. Rarely does a film provide an opportunity to confront our nudity taboo in a pervasive way, short of arbitrarily designating certain characters as nudists (and if I was a film director...). This movie had that opportunity, and while it took two steps in that direction, that's as far as it went. Though in fairness, I'd have a hard time imagining many other viewers (beside myself) who would consider that a serious flaw (or even much of a flaw at all).

In any case, it's a very good movie, with great acting and a decent script (which really shines in the spontaneous interactions between the characters), that feels very polished, and has a tense atmosphere once things take a turn for the worse. I recommend it, especially if you like movies about women being put in situations where they must find their inner strength to survive.


  1. Never heard of this one before. But I'll definitely have to add it to my list asap. Wilderness Survival For Girls remains one of my favorite films. There are, of course, a lot of generic young girl wilderness survival horror films (The Mooring, Animal, Solo) with varying degrees of watchability. Sounds like you've found one of the stronger ones.

  2. I hadn't realized that this had become a theme, but I kind of suspected it when I noted the similarities to Wilderness Survival For Girls. Not sure if Black Rock is *as* good, but it definitely has watchability.

  3. Finally watched this one. Enjoyed it a lot. Very well directed -- those nude scenes bathed in moonlight were quite exquisite, you barely see anything 'naughty' but they're nude for like 15 straight minutes. As it would happen I have to agree with you about the clothes in the daylight, I think it would have been utterly badass to take down the guys while fully nude, like they had reverted to pre-historic humanity. But of course if they did that, you and me would probably be the only people who still took the film seriously, it would seem too cartoonish to most.

    Really enjoyed the villain characters. We've seen lots of backwoods loonies but the way they touched on these guys' backstory was spectacular. Knowing about real life incidents such as the Mahmudiyah killings in Iraq, it was a chill straight to my bones when they explain how they were discharged. That was the big "Oh shit, you're doomed" moment for me.